Album Reviews

Tes – X2

(Lex) UK release date: 21 April 2003

Tes - X2 Terrence Tessora, AKA Tes, hails from Brooklyn, New York and while the city’s hip-hop heritage permeates this album, this is no old skool pastiche. Tes draws on a wider palette having spent his time honing his skills with other NY underground heroes like the now defunct Anti-Pop Consortium and Cannibal Ox.

Throughout much of the album the most obvious influence is that of Staten Island’s finest The Wu-Tang Clan – the grimy beats and doom laden atmospherics on tracks like Late to Work and Say When are examples of producer RZA at his most claustrophobic.

The atmosphere throughout the album is one of eerie horrorcore, sparse beats overlaid with spooky strings and clanking pianos whilst Tes maintains a tight flow of introspective thoughtful lyrics. He avoids the trap that some of the more underground hip-hop acts sometimes fall into of being too clever for their own good. Tes keeps it listenable and it never becomes self indulgent or boring.

Flipping the whole thing on its head though is the stand out track, New New York. Whereas the rest of the album is brooding and dark, this explodes in a riot of stuttering samples and a sumptuous disco orchestration. It’s ridiculously uplifting and ass moving, as a paean to the five boroughs it stands head and shoulders above the rest of the album and as a single would be a perfect, if misleading, introduction to the rest of the album.

Unlikely to convert any die hard jiggy fans and certainly unlikely to figure in the boxes of the like of Westwood, X2 will nevertheless be lapped up by the legions of backpack wearing kids that bow down before the likes of El-P and Anticon. It’s also pleasingly short, with most the tracks weighing in at just two or three minutes and all superfluous rubbish trimmed right back, something someone like Jay-Z could take note of.

As debuts go though, this is a self assured piece of work, and shows Tes has a bright future in the grimy hip hop underworld. Though perhaps a few more excursions onto the dancefloor and out into the sunshine wouldn’t go a miss in the future.

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