“Calling hipster rap fake insults hip-hop itself,” Miles Raymer wrote in the Chicago Reader last year. But what if those hipster rappers just kind of suck? The Cool Kids mix a good beat, but look downright uncomfortable as rappers, and Girl Talk, the “future of music,” mixes the Clipse’s “Wamp Wamp” with the latest indie anthem du jour, turning it into cheap irony. So maybe it’s time for a new kind of future. The Canadian electro-rap duo Thunderheist’s debut LP suggests a happier marriage: Isis raps while DJ Graham spins beats inspired by Detroit techno, a natural progression from electronica’s underground birth to hip-hop’s indie embrace. The 13 tracks here constitute a love note to all of Isis’s favorite things, from bubblegum pop (“Bubblegum”) to booty shaking (“Jerk It”). It’s erotic and in your face without being campy: She boasts that “real girls get down on the floor” on “The Party After,” and she’s equally convincing as a lovesick disco diva on “Nothing 2 Step 2.” Strangely for a “hipster” rap group, the problem here isn’t the rapping; it’s Graham’s bleep-heavy tricks, which rarely match Isis’s force, making for a surprisingly anemic listen. At least on the songs that count, the larger-than-life synths give her the backing power she deserves. “Jerk It,” for example, would make for a very fine workout song, though as with the video, it’s more about swagger than sweat. It might not be the future of music, but this is music you can swing your doorknockers to.
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