Grand Papa Tra
“Lost In New York”
If you grew-up listening to Hip-Hop during the Golden-Era of the 80s and 90s, then you’ll already understand why the five boroughs of New York City will always hold something of a special appeal to rap junkies worldwide. Over the years, artists such as Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Run DMC, KRS-One, Nas and many others all painted pictures of their respective Rotten Apple stomping grounds that became embedded in the domepieces of Hip-Hop fans everywhere, ensuring we knew the names of subway stations, streets and local figures in places such as The Bronx and Brooklyn as if we lived there ourselves.
So it’s no surprise that, ever since Hip-Hop first exploded out of NYC, many out-of-town producers and emcees have attempted to succeed in, or at least be acknowledged by, the Mecca of the culture. The latest travelling man to seek to contribute to the legacy of the city that never sleeps is Switzerland-based producer Grand Papa Tra, whose new project “Lost In New York” is the result of relentless networking, accumulated air miles and hours spent stomping NY streets to numerous studio sessions, with Tra choosing to record face-to-face with his hand-picked collaborators rather than exchange MP3 files over the Internet.
A succinct mix of vocal tracks and instrumental cuts rooted in the heritage of East Coast boom-bap, “Lost In New York” pulls together a selection of both veteran Empire State representatives and newer voices who’ve emerged from the city’s concrete jungles in recent times.
After the brief, ominous “Lost In NY” intro, the unmistakable voice of Brand Nubian’s Sadat X sets the album off properly on the head-nodding anthem “Gotham City”. Over a dense piano-led soundscape punctuated with police sirens, the Wild Cowboy gives his own personal overview of his beloved hometown, referencing everything from the crack explosion of the 80s, to back-in-the day Hip-Hop hot-spots and the terrorist threat of the new millennium. Meanwhile, old Queens running partners Royal Flush and Mic Geronimo unite to drop some typically boisterous New York straight talk on the funk-fuelled “Space Ship”.
The organ-driven “Hip-Hop Is Back” finds Nutso and Punchline attempting to uncover a stolen microphone with the fictional assistance of various NY rap icons, whilst “1 Of A Kind” features female emcee Debonair stirring up memories of self-assured 80s microphone queen Antoinette, delivering sassy, sharp-tongued verses over Tra’s thumping beats.
Clearly a dedicated disciple of the traditional East Coast drum-heavy, sample-laden sound, Grand Papa Tra does a good job throughout “Lost In New York” of respectfully paying homage to his sonic influences whilst still demonstrating his own individual production flair.
As 90s NY favourites Blahzay Blahzay might say, when the Swiss are in the house…oh my god…danger!
Grand Papa Tra ft. Sadat X – “Gotham City” (GrandPapaTra.BandCamp.Com / 2012)