Nikesh Shukla- Gujerati Yam Boy

July 1st, 2004

This six track debut EP from features writer Nikesh Shukla begins with Punk Poetics, a track title likely to leave many sceptics raising an eyebrow at first glance. It’s not long though, before the two words are justified, with vocals of a clear punk influence projecting charged lyrics about a range of issues. The most impressive part of the song is the self produced thumping beat, capturing sounds any Def Jux nerd would put a thumbs up to.

Then comes track two, ‘Don’t Trust the DJ’ featuring Pete Hurley from Antihero. The production begins with a short eastern influence of guitar strings (thank god it wasn’t another high pitched Asian sample) before launching into a busy four minutes where the young vocalist vents his discomfort with the power of a man behind a radio’s boards. The gem here is the sung chorus which welcomingly breaks up the otherwise intense number.

‘Sweet Potato Mash’ is a live recording of a more poetry based performance which sees Nikesh entertaining in a voice that seems a lot more natural which is easier on the ears and, in the long run, likely to make for better play back value. Like the EP’s final track ‘Origins of the Yam Boy’ this has no backing track. A wise bet would be to say that this artist is quite the Saul Williams admirer.

‘United Logos Of Mass Hysterica’ makes way for lyrics that again touch on a variety of sentiments. I’m a huge fan of anything that’s jammed with consciousness but the downfall here is that the choice or rapping style sometimes means points are lost, and its not until a second, third or forth listen that you get the overall picture of what’s going on. Some people will love that. Some however need things a little slower paced if they’re to keep up with what’s being said. Personally, the chorus lets the song down and (look at me scoring points for a mate) comes across a bit angst, like the artist claimed Blade did on his recent album (when he in fact did not!).

The production of Everything Is Fire which features Umo Utuokon provides an enjoyable listen and the urge to listen again once it’s all over. It’s probably the EP’s highlight. I wont dare make a guess as to what instruments are making some of those sounds. There’s a cool and catchy chorus in here and the closing few seconds of the outing conclude the piece nicely.

This EP is good, providing several glimpses into a developing artist with a lot of different ideas when it comes to both vocal execution and production. It’s promising stuff and I feel that if a full length CD was to be created, there’d be adequate room to present a clearer mixture of the diverse approaches Mr Shukla seems to be aiming to show. It’s nice to hear a UK product a bit more inventive than sticking to the current standard.