Hangar 18: Sweep the Leg

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They had me hooked with the album title, a nod to the crucial line in Karate Kid that seems to attract musicians like free liquor and prog rock (it was bastardized by the Chicago-based rockers “Sweep the Leg, Johnny!” in the 90s).

Like a Brooklyn-born Daniel-san kickin’ it in California, the rappers in Hangar 18 might seem a little out of place on stage with luminaries like Big Daddy Kane, Talib Kweli and Mos Def, not to mention KRS One.

But the boys – Tim “Alaska” Baker, Ian “Windnbreeze” McMullin and DJ paWL – after having rapped with those first three icons over the last few years, found themselves on a dais with the godfather of rap in NYC on a recent afternoon, discussing the state of hip-hop for some industry types.

The question is do they belong?

The answer: If you’re looking for an intimidating ghetto anthem, then no. But if you appreciate old-school rap, where the rhyme was as important as the ripped-off hooks, definitely.

It’s the kind of music you can imagine a young Outkast cranking out on a Casio and boom box, circa 1983; there’s a driving rhythm back there – syncopated with actual drum fills! – and not much else, which leaves plenty of room for the smart lyrics from Alaska and Windnbreeze to drip out your speakerbox.

They might not ever win a Grammy with this approach, but, to borrow another Karate Kid line (this one from the all-important third installment), “If rap used defend plastic metal trophy, rap no mean nothing.”

Pick up Sweep the Leg at eMusic.

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