Upper Hutt Posse continues to evolve; less a band, more a musical journey, a concept, it is the project name that founding members MC Wiya, Te Kupu (aka D Word) and Blue Dread use to preach through hip-hop, reggae, funk-fusion, jazz and rock music.
Declaration of Resistance is the band’s seventh record – it is album-as-manifesto and this latest evolution of the band that pushes for social revolution features a jazz-horn section (including Jeff Henderson on alt and baritone saxes) to push the rhythm into place behind the rhymes. There are times when the band sound is huge, transcending all notion of genre, moving through hip-hop and reggae. Blasting out Kiwi-flavoured world music.
It never obscures the message – a tough line against inequality and indifference, a fierce polemic that urges action, most importantly thought – but the music does give the listener a chance to admire the delivery if the message is at times overwrought, overwhelming, over the top. That said, there’s joy in the piece Liberation, it takes on a feel that Linton Kwesi Johnson and Dennis Bovell would be proud of. Elsewhere with Resistance the sound is rock pushing through reggae and rap. Inspiration has the band at its best, doing something to redress the balance for all the phoned-in and lazy-sounding reggae that thwarts this country’s musical momentum. In that sense, Upper Hutt Posse are pushing a hard line musically as well as lyrically, expecting only the best. Where the message was lost a little with previous album Tohe, due to tentative forays in to the worlds of electronica and dubstep, Declaration Of Resistance has this retooled version of the band showing its skills as not only a force to be reckoned with as New Zealand’s oldest, most thought-provoking hip-hop combo but are also (now) one of our sharpest reggae bands.
I love that Upper Hutt Posse’s sound keeps moving, keeps searching, keeps listeners surprised. This album kicks off with Know, one part pop song and one part R’n’B ballad. This might be the bands masterpiece – well, at least until their next album. - Dominion Post