Published Aug 13, 2020Chiming percussion, somehow reminiscent of both island steel drums and chirping synth keys, is one of the standout elements of "Safe Bet," a key track on Guerilla, the new EP by rising Toronto rap group No Tourists. Aside from being thoroughly catchy, that percussion is also noteworthy for its uniqueness.
It's a penchant for experimentation heavily emphasized in promos for this new EP (their second after debuting with Snow Tourists earlier this year). Chalk that sonic innovation up to producers universes and Abdullah, who round No Tourists out with MCs Deelo Avery, James Wesson, Kafayé, Keynes Woods and Lan'do. If that looks like a lot of members in print, just try listening to them pile onto the opening posse cut "Dumbo" with abandon. Tapping into an old-school battle rap sentiment, the abundant roster of rappers hurl insults at their haters over a skittering, skeletal beat and tightly looped horn murmurs that tip the cap to both UK drill and grime. Given such a left-field but also top-notch instrumental to work with, there's little wonder why the quintet of MCs sound so exuberant. And while "Dumbo" is musically lean, closing track "Gas" is comparatively elaborate, incorporating cascading synth bleats and whirs over metallic drums that will make listeners feel as if they're being enveloped in the gears of a strange alien's gadget. The rappers follow suit by rapidly spitting thickly layered boasts.
It all amounts to an ambitious and distinctive sounding batch of instrumentals for an eager and clearly hungry crew of MCs to chew on. Listeners will have even stronger cravings for a proper full-length follow-up after hearing this brisk but immersive EP. (Independent)