Professor Elemental – or just Elemental, as he’s billed here – is back once again with another hiphop offering to delight the eardrums and tickle the senses. His move away from his steampunk roots continues with The Good Dad Club, a selection of tracks looking at fatherhood, masculinity and growing old in the 21st century in conjunction, once again, with the awesome Mr Frisbee and featuring guest appearances from artists Dillon, Dr Syntax, Blaise, Longusto and DJ Nick Maxwell. So, what has the Prof served up for us this time?
Track 1 – ‘Good Dad Club Intrio’ – Which is NOT a typo. It’s a track comprised of various samples to help set the tone for the musical journey we’re about to take. It’s decent enough, but if you skip it you’re honestly not missing too much. It does include a snippet from Kindergarten Cop, though sadly not one that mentions tumours (or the lack thereof).
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Track 2 – ‘The Moment’ – It’s the Prof! It’s a proper little toe-tapping, head nodding number this one. Another lovely upbeat track focusing on the titular moment while touching on aspects of depression and self-doubt.
Track 3 – ‘Grown Folks Boogie’ – Date night! Dad dancing! Mums and gin! Who gives a damn if you’re old or chronically unhip, the Prof says be yourself and be proud. Another song about both mental and physical positivity, reminding us that even when we’re old and a bit battered, sometimes it’s nice to sneak out, leave all those horrible grown up responsibilities behind, and just have some fun.
Track 4 – ‘Ready Or Not’ – This track features Dr Syntax on vocal duty for the first half. I am genuinely not sure what the message of this song is, no matter how many times I listen to it but you know what? Who cares? I could listen to Dr Syntax for hours, the man’s got a lovely voice and some great little lyrical turns of phrase. The Prof joins in for the second half to bring it home and while not quite as catchy as the previous two tracks it’s still another upbeat number.
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Track 5 – ‘Golden Age of Dad’ – A look back, comparing how being a Dad has changed from the 80s till now, when the DAD was something almost aloof and apart from the family as the figurehead as opposed to now where many Dads are far more enmeshed in the day to day that used to be entirely the provenance of the Mum. Sure, it might be tougher in some ways but it’s not all bad. All Dads feel celebrated, sings the Prof, a new Golden Age has been reinstated and as a dad myself… yeah. It ain’t a bad time to be a father at all.
Track 6 – ‘Testify’ – Hush all you Repo! fans. It’s not that. It’s a damn funky little number, though, but rather than extolling the benefits of organ replacement and reasonable payment plans, it’s time to celebrate the little things in life, the magic that we sometimes forget as we get older, when we let work and responsibility drag us down. Live every day like it’s your birthday, like it’s Christmas. A song about the simple joy of life.
Track 7 – ‘Beta Male’ – Another guest appearance, from Longusto this time. Let’s celebrate all the men who aren’t the biggest, the buffest, the bravest, the handsomest. The ones who are a little bit quirky, a little bit broken, the ones who get their heads down and get on with life in the background. It’s a song about labels and pigeonholes and really, who the hell cares?
Track 8 – ‘Nothing Says Cool’ – The Prof drives an Audi and we all know the kinds of people who drive Audis, right? Ah well, let’s celebrate middle-aged cool… right? This song is a rallying cry to all the gammons out there, all the ones who don’t realise that we’re laughing AT them and not with them. It’s a gloriously cutting little track.
Track 9 – ‘Old Dog’ – Featuring Dillon and Blaise. “Rolling around like you’re a big wheel could get you eaten up like a kids meal.” I love that line. A song all about the wisdom and confidence that’s bred by age. It’s another lovely, sarcastic little tune all about the sometime adversarial relationship between kids and their parents – “I was there before you started”.
Track 10 – ‘Social Distance’ – A song about false fans, drunk braggarts and backhanded compliments, this track has my favourite line in the entire album. “I thought you’d be shit, mate, but man you’re a star. I thought you’d be a dick, mate, and you are.” And of course in this era of covid and social distancing, wanting a bit of space to ourselves certainly strikes a chord, whether from overly aggressive fans or just people in general.
Track 11 – ‘Floating Away’ – Featuring Dr Syntax for his second appearance, this is most definitely the album’s come down track. A low and slow bassline, lazy lyrics musing on reality, memory and finding meaning in life.
Track 12 – ‘Dads Dub Club’ – The album wraps up with another sampled track, opening with a discussion over what it means to be a father, how a child absorbs not only what their parents say, but what they do and how they approach the world.
This is another solid album from the hip-hop powerhouse duo that are Professor Elemental and Mister Frisbee. I think I actually like this one a little more than I did their last outing Let’s Get Messy, which was also a damn fine album, and while I still lament the slow drift away from the Professor’s chaphop/steampunk roots in his recent albums, this one is still well worth picking up. Nice one, Prof.
The Good Dad Club is out on 8th June as CD and Download.