When the crew in Five Style Fist began work on their latest album—Left Right in the Middle—over a year ago, they promised a harder, darker, fuller release. They have succeeded on all levels. However, to fans past and present, that doesn’t mean that they’ve abandoned the light airy Island sounds that have come to be associated with them. Indeed, on songs like the highly infectious summer anthem “Long Warm Summer Nights”—which not only captures the mood of those three months between classes, but is also a touching expose on growing pains and friendship—and the equally cool “Jungle Bush”, where front man Ichiban once again dons dual helmets (both singing and rapping his way into your subconscious); the melodic keystrokes of Vernon Valdez, the bouncy guitar rhythms of Justin Kay and the backing vocals and bass of JDub, riding the head nodding percussion of drummer Daniel Abe, leave you not only longing for a sun tan vacation, but chanting along with the guys, as well.
Known as a battle tested emcee, Ichiban—who is also a card carrying member of the Colorado Collective known as The Life Crew, cuts loose lyrically on the albums intro song “Amoeba Creature”, and on the more intense “Hunger Pains”, where he spits many barbs and wires, including: “Ichiban the underdog taking it over the top/ One of the illest…guaranteed to blow up the spot!”
For the ladies, they’ve also included the sexy “P.M.”, which allows the group to display a softer, more mature side as Ichiban serenades the women in the area with lines like: “I’ve got more mojo than Austin Powers in his prime.”
Not to forget their introspective roots, the group digs deep on the “Mad World,” “Nightmirror,” and “Ten Ton Serenity;” leaving the thematic, Rock Opera scope of “Operation Annihilation” to address their feelings on the current political climate, replete with wailing guitars and thunderous percussive backbones. While the piano driven “Nostalgia” is nothing short of amazing, as the bass and the vocals ride the rhythm so deftly you can’t help but be drawn into the groove.
More fully realized, with a stronger urgency and consistent tone across the board, Left Right in the Middle is the complete album that should get rotation in your system whether you fancy rap, reggae or rock. The vocals are richer, the music is tighter, and, though many groups strive to reach that point where their live performance is encapsulated in the studio recording, Five Style Fist has actually accomplished this feat.
Don’t be left out.