Here it is! Hocus Pocus’s second album « Place 54 » is available. After the success of their first album « 73 Touches », fans couldn’t wait any longer to discover their new tracks. We couldn’t either. And it is with apprehension that we started listening to the 16 new tracks of Hocus Pocus’s « Place 54 », an essential group on the French speaking music world. Would they be up to their first album or would the pressure be too strong?
In the first place, we must admit that we were quite puzzled by the album and more particularly by the first track « Place 54 » which is a bit slow. But then it all became clear. Hocus Pocus is back from a two-year tour and back to the roots: back to their hometown Nantes and back to the roots of hip-hop: jazz and funk. All the way through the album Hocus Pocus celebrate jazz and funk like a tribute to the greatest artists. And it is no accident that flutist Magic Malick and trombone player Fred Wesley were recruited to perform on this album. Magic Malick is one of the only jazzmen who focus on transverse flute whereas most of jazz musicians take it as a secondary instrument. Fred Wesley has worked with James Brown, Maceo Parker, Parliament and Bootsy Collins. Musically the album is as good as we could expect. It is ethereal yet rich and full of subtleties. It is no accident that Motown France led by French rapper Diam’s recruited them.
The topics brought up are the drifts in France on the immigration issues (« Quitte à t’aimer » featuring Cesaria Evora singing the chorus), the unrest of the declining and individualistic French society (« Place 54 », « Normal »); unrest unveiled by the emptiness of the music and TV industry where everybody seeks fame even an ephemeral one (« Recyclé », « Mr Tout le Monde »). 20syl also talks about the problems of tourism and its sexual and social drifts (« Tourisme »). If we can criticise his lack of depths in his lyrics, at least he tackles these issues and Hocus Pocus has always claimed to be a very positive group. We can feel it in the tracks « Smile » (featuring Omar), « Vocab » which is a sparring match between 20syl, American rappers T-Love and The Procussions on the universality of music and the language drifts in the American and French raps. We feel it too in the track « Tournée », which recalls their two-year- tour and « Je la Soul », a confession of a man in love, in love with women and music.
This new album is a success and each listening gives an opportunity to discover new sounds, 20syl’s very changing flow, between poetry and a clipped flow. As the previous one, we keep on listening and listening to it again and again. Hocus Pocus is definitely a safe bet of the French hip-hop and the French speaking hip-hop. Thank God, it is such a relief...
video : Hocus Pocus « Smile » Featuring Omar