#034: Giant Panda’s Electric Laser

Giant Panda - Electric Laser

The tri-racial and bi-lingual rapsters Giant Panda released their first album ‘Fly School Reunion’ in 2005. The album represented their love of hip hop and it’s history and while it was a forward thinking hip hop album it still had some people labelling it as “throwback”, “old school” or “backpacker” rap. With ‘Electric Laser’ however, Giant Panda have set their own boundaries, boldly defining an individual style and raising the bar for modern hip hop.

Following a grandiose intro the album opens with a bang and all three members drop verses to set the tone to come. From the get go Giant Panda’s second album shows a developed schematic through a distilled level of production and individual lyricism.

Chikaramanga, the asian third of the group, raps mechanical Japanese syllables and translates the ethic to his English flows and sample chopping.

Maanumental maintains his status as king of wordplay, dominating the track ‘AIM’ with a verse twisted with the letter T, while also showing a brave level of lyricism, exploring mature themes later in the album.

Newman is a constant force, trading verses with Maanumental to create a great duo chemistry and having a greater production influence on this album. In the three years since the last Giant Panda release, a couple of remixes and side projects have hinted at a development of musical experimentation, the sonic fruit of which are really revealed on ‘Electric Laser’.

“where we aiming with this, I don’t think it exists, the way that we came is strange, the whole thing is a trip”

Without giving too much away, the album flows through a variety of moods while maintaining a solid electric pace.
‘Laser Ray’ provides a metaphorical description of an outer-space political figure who uses a laser beam to clean up the world’s problems, while the single ‘Speakers Pop’ and its partner ‘Speakers Funk’ are eponymous plump offerings of that ol’ boom bap, containing crisp drums and deep bass lines that pump through your ears.

If anything, ‘Electric Laser’ seems to continue where ‘Superfly’ from ‘Fly School Reunion’ left off, although while there is a new electric sound, it is maintained through traditional production techniques and clever use of samples. A continuous electrical vibe with a funky backbone under banging drums, the sound is cohesive throughout and is distinct from other recent Giant Panda production, such as Newman’s ‘New Jack Hustle’ side project. Despite innovating their production, Giant Panda aren’t trying to follow any recent trends and make a point of stating their independence.

“All these new sucker type beats where there ain’t no drums, just some dumb little beeps, that’s weak” - Maanumental

If this all sounds daunting though don’t worry because you can expect more of what Giant Panda are known for with clever rhymes, big beats and real content being important elements as ever.

“We ain’t got anything new for y’all, just same old shit” - Chikaramanga

‘Electric Laser’ is definitely a hip hop album in all the traditional ways - it contains wack emcee disses, in-jokes, a love song (of course), a bit of chorus singing and a tribute to the DJ ‘Precise Calculator’ Chikaramanga, yet the level of maturity shown sets it apart from many recent records which have shown a purely artificial change in style.

Giant Panda have shown a consistent level of skill throughout their career so far, a rarity in modern hip hop, but they don’t need to brag about their prowess - ‘Electric Laser’ show and proves.

Out now!

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