I first heard Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band via their 2016 cover of “PIMP,” which transformed 50 Cent’s pop rap anthem into a mind-blowing, steel pan-infused instrumental banger. The vibe was immediate, the type of track that makes you go “oooh!” as you’re listening to it. Needless to say it blew by receding hairline back. I was hooked and immediately sought out everything I could get my hands on from this mysterious group.
At the time I assumed (wrongly) that Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band were some sort of hip-hop loving Caribbean cover band. But, it turns out, rather than being Trinidadian as their affinity for steel drums suggests, they actually reside in chilly Hamburg, Germany, of all places. It’s such an odd pairing, both geographically and culturally – but, damn, these guys really manage to pull it off so well.
Since releasing “PIMP” as a limited run 7”, BRSB has rattled off a steady stream of bangers, dropping two full length albums and a slew of highly coveted 45 singles. “Expansions” is their third full length and you’d be forgiven for thinking that by now their shtick may have worn a little thin. After all, how long can a group of white dudes from Hamburg rattle off steel pan covers of golden era rap classics?. But it turns out they’ve still got plenty of tricks left.
As the title implies, “Expansions” finds BRSB branching out, introducing a variety of tempos and covering a wide swath of sounds that are sure to please fans of most (good) genres. Part of the fun in listening to BRSB is identifying the songs they cover, so I won’t give too much away here, but expect to find songs by everyone from J Dilla to Minnie Ripperton to Sylvester.