David Wright

Rae & Christian

10th June 2005
reviewer: David Wright
rating: 5 out of 5
published by: Grand Central
released: 26th February 2001
  1. Blazing the crop
  2. Hold us down (feat. The Congos)
  3. It ain't nothing like (feat. The Pharcyde)
  4. Get a life (feat. Bobby Womack
  5. Not just anybody (feat. Kate Rogers)
  6. Trailing in the wake
  7. Vai viver a vida (feat. Tania Maria)
  8. Let it go (feat. The Pharcyde)
  9. Ready to roll
  10. Wake up everybody (feat. Bobby Womack)
  11. Salvation (feat. Siron)

The Pharcyde, Bobby Womack, Tania Maria, The Congos, Siron, Jigmastas and Kate Rogers bring their sizeable vocal & writing talents to this album, which I think has to propelled this band to new heights.

Having bought this album on the Monday of release and having given it some heavy rotation I have to say I was initially a little disappointed. Donít get me wrong, itís a really good album; in fact itís too good. Compared to 'Northern Sulphuric Soul', 'Sleepwalking' is very polished and exceptionally well produced, which for me is where the main flaw lies. Unlike 'NSSís raw edge, this is silky smooth. 'NSS' had a certain naivety about it; it was new, it was British hip hop and it was totally unexpected. As a result many people have been waiting with baited breath for 'Sleepwalking' (me included) and I feel that as a result Rae and Christian felt that they had to deliver something better, to improve on what was laid down in 'Northern Sulphuric Soul'. But in doing so they have lost the edge that their first album had.

Having said that, for a first time listener, this album should be essential. Itís a great journey though British hip hop, from Rae and Christian's perspective, building on what theyíve learnt and incorporating some of their experiences. Having such a great list of featured artists 'Sleepwalking' should deserve some recognition for what it is: unpretentious, good quality music.

Bobby Womack should need no introduction. His recent inclusion on the Jackie Brown soundtrack has seen a resurgence in his popularity and the two tracks he sings on the new LP see a return to his absolute best. The Pharcyde, having gone to ground in recent years, also feature twice on the LP and their live reputation in the hip-hop field is second to none. Tania Maria is a legend in the latin vocal field - her track 'Come With Me' is a Latin dance floor anthem and her performance on 'Sleepwalking' is one of the greatest moments on the new album. The Congos also need little introduction for roots reggae fans. Their 'Heart Of Congos' album stands as one of the defining moments in Jamaican music. Produced by the legendary Lee Scratch Perry it has been the biggest selling re-release on the Blood & Fire label. The Jigmastas are one of New York's best-kept secrets (perhaps better individually known as DJ Spinna and Kriminul). Krim drops a verse with The Pharcyde and was the main rapper for the tours. Kate Rogers and Siron have performed live with Aim and Rae & Christian respectively and will provide the female vocal dexterity. They have recorded four tracks on 'Sleepwalking'.

After getting recognised by the likes of Bobby Womack and the Pharcyde, this album deserves attention from anyone who has an ear for a good record.