When London trio LV released its video for "Boomslang" in 2010, just about everyone was enamored with its MC, Okmalumkoolkat (a.k.a. Smiso Zwane). The South African rapper looked like he had just climbed out of an '80s-themed party hosted by M.I.A., complete with post-Cosby fashion choices (read: Dwayne Wayne glasses) and a penchant for neon fabrics. He has resurfaced on the Get a Grip EP, the latest release from LV, but his appearances on the record suggest that the iced-out and Day Glo-wearing rapper on "Boomslang" actually may not have been Okmalumkoolkat. Perhaps it was his alter ego, the "hipster internet fiend" Zulu Computar.
According to Okmalumkoolkat's chunky flow on the EP's last track, "Zulu Computar," his alias is a mash-up of cultural detritus from the digital world. Although it can be hard to distinguish full phrases over the 8-bit whine of LV's synths and the elastic beat, references to smartphones, WiFi, and Macintosh bubble up from the mix in chunks. Rather than serving as a fully formed statement, the song, barely two minutes in duration, serves as a quick peek into Okmalumkoolkat's mind and LV's jacking productions. The same could be said for the record as a whole, which mostly functions as a taste test for LV's upcoming LP, Sebenza.
In fact, "Zulu Computar" and the EP's opening track "Sebenza" will both be featured on the trio's forthcoming full-length, making "Get a Grip" the only non-album song on the record. Although LV is often noted for the South African sounds its producers incorporate into the grammar of UK funky, the tune's rapidly looped vocal sample and cacophonous rhythm speaks more toward juke and footwork influences. However, LV is not the sort of group that digests and reflects its inspirations evenly or neatly: each song is a tangle of musical DNA strands. "Get a Grip" juggles its juke-like stutter alongside the loud percussion and gritty low end of drum & bass and the syncopated beat of South African house.
The South African flavor of Get a Grip, from the bouncy rhythm of "Sebenza" to the eccentric vocal stylings of South African natives like Okmalumkoolkat, distinguishes LV from the many other producers who have started to sniff around juke and footwork territory. Although the group's three members (Will Horrocks, Gervase Gordon, and Si Williams) don't like to give interviews or appear in the public eye, the colorful drum patterns and forward personalities of the featured MCs burst with vitality in a manner that can't be fully explored over the course of three short tracks. Given that, Get a Grip, as a standalone piece, falls short of executing any fully formed ideas. Nevertheless, it hints at what LV has in store and reveals just enough to leave us wanting more.