The Undercover Hippy — his mum calls him Billy — is one mixed up dude: he sounds like he should have long hair but doesn’t; on record he sounds a bit of a crusty but he’s a smart young man (his mum must be proud); he raps like Eminem but to reggae. He’s certainly different.
Ben Marwood, reviewed elsewhere, philosophises about the life internal, encouraging listeners to review the meaning of life and rage against the night; Undercover Hippy is equally philosophical but about the wider world, and wants us to rage about those in charge.
Rise and Fall opens the album with: “We created the state in Iran/We created the Afghan Taliban,” and you don’t really have to listen to Truth and Fiction to guess what he’s on about (“I don’t know what to believe no more / Politicians play their games of war”). The same applies to Who’s In Debt to Who. He’s a fast rapper and neatly spits out his stream of thoughtful invective.
Musically, it’s rock/reggae, with the stress on the reggae. Rise and Fall opens with a dub beat, brass and reggae boings and while he can go poppy and vary the tempo, it’s pretty much solid reggae throughout.
His band is ridiculously good: tight, and all good musicians, given scope to show off their chops, particularly the keyboard/organ, which has some marvellous moments. The bass is Sly ‘n’ Robbie solid. Slightly out there, but enjoyable.