While an alluring idea with well-orchestrated composition, Ensemble Mik Nawooj’s The Future of Hip-Hop leaves you grateful for the classical twist on hip-hop and unsatisfied as a listener. The Future of Hip-Hop should be a conceptual success. It’s doing what we as Americans have done since Jazz music, which is to appropriate and innovate. Yet, what remains bothersome is the lyrical content, flow, and delivery that follows behind such grandiose pieces of production.
However, the idea isn’t too out there. Mixing classical music with hip-hop has previously been done before by JIMEK at the Polish National Radio Symphony, where JIMEK chronicles a timeline of hip-hop production to perfection.
This is what Ensemble Mik Nawooj’s leader and composer, JooWan Kim, is fantastic at. EMN starts off strong with “Black Swordsman,” melodically familiar to the ear and straying just far enough off the beaten path to have you feel comfortable to the idea. The first track only further illustrates that JooWan Kim is great at composing these haunting, beautiful remakes from production legends like J Dilla and Dr. Dre.
After that track EMN suffers. “Gin and Juice” by no means is mechanically weak. It’s unfortunate and apparent that EMN pushes too far into the unfamiliar in an attempt to keep you accustomed to their project. New instrumentation covering the old? Great by all means. A lyrical remix over the originals, however, is different. Your lyrical content has to be levels higher than the classic to deliver, and this is where exploring through uncharted lands feels too far off.
Most, if not all the songs reciprocate this issue. It’s like listening to Hopsin. His lyrical mechanics? Good. The content and the delivery of said content is left to be desired as it lacks any innovation or creativity that should follow the concept behind the instrumentals. To fully accomplish what they intend to pursue, EMN doesn’t need radio rappers, they need storytellers.
While being interesting and exciting to listen to, Ensemble Mik Nawooj fails to completely deliver with The Future of Hip-Hop. While this is true, the project and idea behind it is too compelling and well-crafted to completely abandon.
Listen to EMN below and for more on new hip-hop, keep following on at TrueToo.