Following years of Myspace releases, Uffie, the most divisive artist on Ed Banger Records (home of Justice and formerly most divisive artist Mr. Oizo), finally puts out her debut Sex Dreams and Denim Jeans. She has more than her own boatload of hype. The question is does her album actually stand up to it all? The short answer to this question is yes and no.
Before I start answering this question, let me give a little background on Uffie. Miami-born, Hong Kong-raised, and Paris-based, Anna-Catherine Hartley has been making tracks on the dance underground for a few years now. If you are up on your Internet music hype, you would have caught her first EP with “Pop The Glock” and “Ready to Uff” back in February of 2006. Given that I was too busy being a social delinquent at that time, she first came to my attention on labelmate Mr. Oizo’s 2009 album Lamb’s Anger, providing vocals on “Steroids.” Honestly, it was an uninteresting cameo on an otherwise compelling piece of straightahead dance music from someone who is better known for his ability to make the most un-club-friendly dance music on the face of the planet (Youtube “Stunt” if you don’t believe me). After a series of delays and misinformation, Sex Dreams and Denim Jeans was eventually released this June.
To return to the question posed, this album does succeed on a number of levels. The first is the production. Provided by Mirwais, Mr. Oizo, SebastiAN, and Feadz, each track’s beat is sharp, hard, and varied. Ranging from the adapted “Top Billin'” sample on “Pop The Glock” to the nouveau Miami Vice-style synth fills on “Ricky,” each producer does some really top notch work, mixing it up between club bangers and post-club, early morning tracks. There isn’t a poorly produced track in the bunch.
Along with nice beats, Uffie is a good dance/club chanteuse like Caron Wheeler. I can imagine tracks where she sings like “Give It Away,” “First Love,” and “Illusion of Love” burning up floors across the globe (and it probably is). Each of those songs makes you want to get on the floor and grind up on someone, which is a good thing for a dance album. In another addition for the dance floor, Uffie does a really excellent cover of Siouxsie and The Banshees’s “Hong Kong Garden,” honoring the original while putting her own spin on it.
While there are positives to the album, there are a few negatives. The first is that she’s a heavy biter. On “Pop The Glock,” Uffie shows a disturbing lack of creativity by just replacing the words to Audio Two’s “Top Billin'” with her own. As well, during “Our Song,” the tempo and style of the song with its heavy auto-tuning takes directly from T-Pain’s track “Buy U A Drank (Shawty Snappin’).” At points, it sounds like an exact carbon copy. Good rappers just don’t do that. As Tha Alkaholiks said on “Coast II Coast,” “If imitation is the greatest form of flattery/ then, punk, don’t flatter me.”
Additionally, her lack of hip-hop artist credentials are wiped out in my mind by the fact that the material she did write pales in comparison to the writing done by Feadz, who wrote 7 of the 14 tracks by himself along with co-writing 3 others with Uffie. This makes her claims about being an awesome writer somewhat difficult to believe. That idea is bolstered by her rather weak flow. I almost crashed my car when she said “Sound like twista fast as hell” at a pace slower than I talk. I appreciate irony in a lot of places, but flows are not one of them.
Lastly, this CD is one of the slowest starters I’ve listened to in a while. If I weren’t reviewing this album, I wouldn’t have gotten to the awesome “Hong Kong Garden” cover, which is the penultimate track, because I would have turned it off by the fifth track “MCs Can Kiss,” another track where Uffie stumbles in another ill-fated attempt to prove her rapping superiority.
Much like a lot of pop albums, Sex Dreams and Denim Jeans has its high and its lows, both of which are meteoric. The only thing that stays consistent in the production. This CD features some of the best work that I’ve ever heard from Mr. Oizo (and that includes his own albums). To end, on “Our Song,” Uffie asks the audience if they believe in her music. If this album is her case, I can’t say that I fully do. I will if she can make more tracks that sound like the last 5 tracks rather than the first 5.
p.s. This is my first entry of many as a member of Mission Creek.