HKB FINN / “Sanctuary of Joy (Extended Version)”

hkb finn 01.jpg Hunt-Kill-Bury Finn aka Andrew Ward. Born on Malta, reared in Jamaica, living in London. A hip hop head and spoken word artist who is a musician and filmmaker heavy into what he dubs “acoustic afro hip hop.” Which all is to say, I got to him when I was trolling late one night/early one morning. Following up on one person’s myspace, seeing his name dropped, and before I knew it I was on iTunes buying Finn’s work as downloads. No waiting by a mailbox. Got it. Dug it. Am sharing it with y'all. There’s nothing to describe or write about in the sense of breaking it down. Basically beats, melodies and lyrics. Heavy emphasis on acoustic instruments. Witty lyrics. Well crafted, catchy melodies—at least I find Finn’s music attractive ("Sanctuary of Joy," "Dead Walkers" and "Free Rebel Spirit"). I like the joy and humor in his work. Check that my man’s name is a hip hop twisting of Huckleberry Finn, who was a vagabond. I dig how my man is both all over the place and simultaneously deep in the pocket of hip hop. I particularly like his dis songs ("Miss a Rebel," "Archetype" and "The Rooster Song") that don’t be base vulgar with the language but still be cutting. hkb finn 02.jpg OK, listen and make your own decision. Oh, yeah, one other thing. Listening to Finn’s music in chronological order, I can clear hear a progression. The man be growing and developing not just as an artist but also as a producer. Figuring out how to not only make sounds but also how to record sounds, which is an art also. Finally, let me quote from a response Finn made to a listener.

Happy April Sister of Inspiration,_ I hope all is good.  Many thanks for your kind comments. Truth is, iTunes is a really useful music software programme. It's completely free to download and with it you can do lots of things inluding link an iPod (if you've got one) or you can burn CD's endlessly with it.  No limitations. The iTunes store (only a small part of the programme) is a 100% secure online service that provides and mountain of releases including my works and is really cheap to buy.  Oh, yeah, and you can choose the song you want rather than purchase an entire album. It also sells Movies (U.S. only so far), TV programmes and audiobooks (Hmmm?).  The best thing about iTunes for me is the fact that I can release a song instantly to the entire planet, which means everyon can buy the same song they want, when they want and not wait for the marketing to get to their territory.  That and the added bonus of no mailing or shipping problems. If you've got broadband?  You've got to get iTunes hon.  Not for the store...that's for laater..but for a stable music platform that encodes songs at the highest quality next to CD.  Try it out.  I think you may just like it. Thanks for passing... 1Love FiNN
This is from Finn’s myspace notes. Brotherman been thinking seriously about how to produce, distribute and market his material. It worked. I bought his stuff and assume that some of our listeners will be clicking over to iTunes and downloading some Finn. Fin. —Kalamu ya Salaam          I need an hour of Hot Boys           So.... While I was surfing around trying to figure out why I dislike Finn's music so much (or should I write it FiNN, like he does? What the hell's up with that?), I came across a review from I perked up right away because I wanted to see what other U.S. listeners might have to say. I'd found countless enthusiastic - even ecstactic - reviews, but they were all by British writers who almost sounded like they were scoring one for the team. I didn't realize there was such a 'we're proud to support UK hip-hop' thing going on. Anyway, okayplayers said:
The inherent dilemma one faces in judging self-proclaimed 'rebel music' is in differentiating intent from execution. During my college years I encountered quite a few over-zealous activists whose extreme approach soured the message rooted in beliefs that I might have even agreed on beforehand. UK-based spoken word artists HKB:FiNN invokes those characters for the entirety of Spoken Herbs; and like an encounter with that guy at that one house party, it’s an exchange that doesn’t exactly work as intended.
Finn’s message is one of stark individuality in the face of worldwide politics and hip hop’s current state of affairs, a voice of “newblackness” that embraces African-centered thinking in the language of black modernism. All that is well and good, and the noble intent of such a refreshing mind state is enough to warrant respect and admiration; even more so, you feel a mix of hope and reservation when approaching artists like this, because it goes without saying: it’s hard to deliver a message and still entertain. In other words, to quote Ms. Badu, what good do your words do if they can’t understand you? Let’s take it to the next level: what good do your words do if your album is comprised of music and songs that are sub par?
Jangling live instrumentation hinting at elements of folk, reggae and rock. Drumbeats that never really induce the hip hop aesthetic that they are so obviously aiming for. A slew of half-baked melodies and hooks that sandwich vitriolic rants; these are all contributing factors to Spoken Herbs’ failure. FiNN is an able poet in the vein of a Saul Williams; it’s a shame that the musical backdrops he’s chosen all too often fail to elevate message. It’s a scattered and unpleasant listening experience- not because it’s brutal or cutting edge, but because it’s just so poorly done.
To which I can add only 'ditto.' I disagree only with that last comment. It's not poorly done at all. If anything, it's perfectly done and sometimes, doing a thing perfectly is even worse than doing it poorly. Meaning, I don't get the feeling things will (or can) ever improve with this dude because the fact is, he's skillful enough and experienced enough that he's already doing exactly what he wants to do. It's not like the finished product would've been better if only he had better recording equipment or more experience or whatever. I read a quote where HK talked about the lengths he goes through to get a gritty, grimy feel to his music. I was quite surprised to read that because, to me, his music sounds very, very slick. I wanted to take a sheet of sandpaper to it. Not to smooth it down, but to roughen it up. I wanted to un-mix it a little. My mind drifted, wondering what his demos might sound like. Then again, I don't think I'd like the demos any more than his finished tracks because a) I don't like his spoken-word-sounding flow, and b) I hate to be preached to and this dude is one preachy bastard. By the end of an hour of nothing but Finn, I felt like saying, "Dude, let me live my own damn life. You go live yours." I felt like I had accidentally wandered into an Afrocentric 12-step group meeting and couldn't find my way out. What I need right now is an hour of Hot Boys and UGK. Just for balance. If this music is so bad, you might be wondering, why am I wasting so much time talking about it. Glad you asked. It's because I want to like this music. It's because I'm having a hard time figuring out why I don't like it. If someone were to describe it to me before I heard it, I'd be excited to hear it, no doubt. I'd be ready to drop it in my CD changer right away. But like dude from okayplayer said, it's not good enough to be well-meaning and saying all the right things. If the shit don't sound good, it just don't sound good. —Mtume ya Salaam P.S. If you want to be taken seriously, naming yourself after Huckleberry Finn is a very bad idea. Almost as bad an idea as, to quote one of the reviews I read, "using lowercase and capital case in a unique combination."           Same music - different ears           Everything Mtume says is true. (For Mtume). He's not wired to hear Finn; "hear" as in "like" that kind of sound. Part of it is his aversion to overt political statements. Period. Unless it is cloaked in some Hot Boyz bullshit (I'm intentionally exaggerating) which I mean, everything is political, especially music that doesn't seem to be political. Everything is political. Period. I happen to like overt politics in my pop music, and that's what Finn is: popular music. I knew when I posted it, that this was not going to go down smoothly with Mtume. I really, really like doing BoL with Mtume. We both know a lot about the music we dig. We both had a broad overlap of what we dig. But we are different. Very, very different. And there are some areas where we diverge 180-degrees—meaning we be heading in the opposite direction. And not only is that OK, I think the fact that we do BoL together and we diverge at times is one of the big, big strengths of BoL. (Mtume is much more civil about his disagreements with my tastes than I am about his. If you want to understand what I mean, type the word "Ambersunshower" in the search box and read what I had to say about one of Mtume selections. I'm still learning how to disagree without being disagreeable—in the case of some of this music, that's a very difficult learning curve for me.) I really would be interested to hear what folk have to say about Finn. Not so much whether you agree with me or agree with Mtume, but rather how it sounds to you. What you hear when you hear it. Perhaps it may even prove to be lukewarm: you don't like it but you don't hate it either; you could take it or leave it. I know one thing for sure: Finn be calling it hip hop. Hip hop it may be but it's not rap as we know rap. Finn's acoustic hip hop seems to my ears to flow from the Gil Scott-Heron branch of black music. In fact, I could say Last Poets but I would really mean Watts Prophets—and without bothering to go too deeply into that analogy let's just say the Watts Prophets were less polished and much more didactic than the Last Poets. Here is where labeling hurts rather than helps folk understand. Finn calls this hip hop. I'm sure most hip hop heads will dislike (probably intensely) Finn's acoustic hip hop. I hear it as pop music influenced by hip hop. To my ears, I like what I hear. But I also understand that if I had Mtume's hip hop ears, I would hate this shit. Which all pretty much sums up why he and I get along as well as we do. We get along not because we always agree but rather because when we disagree we understand why and what we're disagreeing about. After all, Mtume can't be right all the time ;->). —Kalamu ya Salaam P.S. Howsoever, I've got to admit, Mtume, you are absolutely right about Finn's chosen name—it's bullshit.  

This entry was posted on Sunday, May 13th, 2007 at 1:11 am and is filed under Contemporary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “HKB FINN / “Sanctuary of Joy (Extended Version)””

May 13th, 2007 at 6:58 am

As a Londoner and a fan of Hunt Finn since the 80’s I just have to say massive respect to you for posting this. He is a true “Unsung Heroe” of the UK. Firstly with his crew Katch 22 and their 3 classic albums…Now he’s on his own flex.
Try and get his Katch 22 albums for someting ruffer or his first solo album.
And back when he was “Pure” Hip Hop he was one of the most vicious MC’s you WOULDNT want to cross – pure viciousness and his name was PERFECT for the type of MC he was – HUNT, KILL, BURY …… Not many MC’s could test

May 13th, 2007 at 7:14 am

And Oh yea it may not sound like it but im not a massive fan of this latest work from Finn not nearly as good as his older work, its not the best you could have put up from him.
But hopefully it will lead some to search more about him and lead to other UK artists that are mostly overlooked due to having no industry support

Qawi Says:
May 16th, 2007 at 10:23 pm

I like it and then I don’t. His lyrics are Hip and the beats Hop, but that doesn’t quite make it completely Hip-Hop. Without quoting Russell Simmons about what Hip-Hop means, let’s just say that I can appreciate HKB FiNN’s Hip-Hop. It sounds like 90’s New Jack Swing meets Will Smith meets Michael Franti And Spearhead. I might even say he mildly sounds like Slum Village…mildly.

However, between the beats and cadence, there are lyrics. Unfortunately after listening to this several times and liking the music, the lyrics don’t stand out. I mean, one key element to calling something Hip-Hop/Rap is what the MC is saying right? And Ms. Badu’s point is true in this case. Accent notwithstanding, what is he really saying, what is the purpose of his song. That, more than the beats and music is the challenge for us folk across the pond in the U.S.

Maybe it’s his accent too, but for these to be political lyrics, they don’t seem edgy enough or "call to arms" enough. In other words, I’m more inclined to dance to the beat than ponder about the lyrics. But rather than dis him any further, Mtume, I’ll keep listening. Maybe I am missing something.

         Mtume says:         

You don’t have to keep listening on my account, Qawi. I’m with you. Kalamu is the Finn fan.


Leave a Reply

| top |