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The Free EP

Ugly Duckling’s Andy Cooper Releases His First Solo Project 

coverUnlike most rap vocalists, Andy has rarely worked outside of his band but, recently, he decided to record a six-song EP to explore his abilities as an MC and producer.  ‘The Free EP’ features a highly creative Hip-Hop veteran showcasing his mastery of fundamental rap skill while, at the same time, daringly pushing the boundaries of lyrical possibility.  Andy also holds down things on the beat, using his years of experience as Ugly Duckling co-producer to combine classic, sample-rich sound with a more rugged and modern sensibility.  On top of all this, Andy is giving this music away (hence the title) to promote ‘Ear to the Track’, a blog-site dedicated to his insights and observations about the world of popular music.

Being that ‘The Free EP’ was Andy’s first undertaking as an individual artist, he was somewhat unsure how to approach the project but once he got immersed in the recording process, he grew to love the freedom that solo work provides.  Andy reflects, “U.D. has been the focus of my creative life since I was 18 and almost every idea I’ve ever had was formulated to fit within a group concept so, these days, I’m really enjoying the unencumbered liberty to explore my lyrical ability and do things that wouldn’t have made sense within Ugly Duckling”.

On songs like ‘Bring It To Me’ and ‘Number One’, Andy pushes the limits of vocal speed and precision, crafting relentless, ear-scorching rap verses; ‘Number One’ may well contain the fastest stanza ever spit.  ‘Do the Charlie Brown’, co-produced by Ugly Duckling’s Young Einstein, is a homage to Andy’s favorite cartoon crew while ‘Blind Faith’ freshly flips an iconic guitar lick from Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood (another benefit of a free album is not worrying about sample clearances) into a bumping, Rap instrumental. 

‘Thanks and Goodnight’ is a cathartic and thoughtful exploration of an artist’s career built on an uplifting Soul back cover 3groove reminiscent of tunes like BDP’s ‘My Philosophy’ or Nas’ ‘Memory Lane’.  The final track, ‘Ashes to Ashes’ is an eerie and challenging track which blends dark, piercing Electro rhythms with gritty, funk drum-breaks and general strangeness.  This haunting soundscape supports Andy’s scathing ode to Hip-Hop’s culture and, according to him, unfortunate demise. 

“From my viewing point, mainstream Hip-Hop is more of a clown-show than anything else which is sad because many of the rappers who participate in, what I would call, ‘buffoonery for the sake of commercial success’ are actually very talented people”.

Obviously, projects come and go faster than I can finish this sentence but ‘The Free EP’ is truly worth digesting because it challenges the standard Hip-Hop formulas on the market.  Rather than jumping on the latest trend or standing firm on Old-School principles, Andy utilizes all the resources of experience, technology and a relentlessly imaginative mind to offer something traditional, yet exciting and relevant.  Any listener who is an authentic connoisseur of Rap Music will be both stimulated and energized by this release which is truly, and literally, a gift to weary Hip-Hop fans who have just about given up on the genre.  ‘The Free EP’ is the product of Andy Cooper’s thousands of hours of labor in studios and stages across the world so the songs may be absolutely free, but they didn’t come cheap.