By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
"New York has pushed us in playing at a higher level of musicality," Reynolds says. "The rhythm of what we do has changed. Our music has gotten darker because life in New York is harder, more tense."
"Tumbling Bones" shows that. A departure from the happy-go-lucky music and lyrics found on Thick, the beat is denser, slower, moodier. The jazzy playfulness of earlier songs gives way to a dark atmosphere closer to traditional hip-hop, and there is more gravity in the voices of Hilliard and Young.
"Since we moved to New York, our songwriting has matured," Hilliard says. "We're not singing with church choirs and being serious and somber or anything, but we do sound different. In the past we had a little bit of a rock influence that showed. The guitars were louder, the songs faster, but not anymore; it's slower, our own style of hip-hop. We do listen to gangsta rap, but we interpret it our own way."
In the context of mallrat rap, Hilliard believes that there is a lot of potential that hasn't been realized. He still praises De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest, but feels that there are few new names to write home about. Instead, he sees a lot of phonies plundering hip-hop and reaping undeserved rewards: "Having been exposed to it, lately my lyrics have been centering around the state of hip-hop. There is a foulness to it, it's very surface: bragging about materialistic things, that you have to be down with high fashion, have fat cash and all that. We're definitely not a part of that foulness," he says.
For now Bassx concentrates on building a new audience and recording tracks for a new album. Spending time in the studio brings them into contact with other established acts that share their stories about the music biz glitter. "Since we're the low men on the totem pole, we record whenever there is space," Young says, laughing.
Reynolds is convinced that the band is on the right track: "We're closer to our goal now. We're at the center of what's happening. Every label, publishing company, magazine, even MTV is here. Now we see how it's done on a national level. In Texas we had the "local hero" syndrome, living in a fantasy land. Moving here made us get off our butts and work harder. Now we can be connected to the people who can get you out on an international level," he says.
"But I miss the Texas weather, and I miss driving my car," Young adds with a touch of homesickness.
Bassx performs Friday, April 18 at Trees and Saturday, April 19 at Rick's Place in Denton.