Tom Scott made his name fronting Home Brew, the celebrated and talented rap crew that delighted in being as juvenile and obnoxious as possible.
But even an enfant terrible has to grow up sometime. His growing pains were evident with @peace and Average Rap Band, the hip-hop outfits he started after the inevitable demise of Home Brew. But it's here that Scott drops the fooling completely and gets real.
The result is a brutally honest, startlingly raw and, often quite brave, reflection on his life. Deeply personal, and influenced by the birth of his son, the lyrics see Scott negotiating his past, coming to grips with his new role as a father in the present and preparing for their future.
Ostensibly a solo project, Avantdale Bowling Club nevertheless has a long list of collaborators, proving Scott is as adept at surrounding himself with talent as he is providing it.
Hip-hop and jazz have a long association but mostly it's been through samples and loops. Here, Scott's hustle is far more ambitious. Rather than digging through old jazz records to sample, he instead enlisted a top-tier band to play behind him. Remove his vocals and you'd be left with a solid, groove-orientated, jazz record. One whose influence you can trace right back to the likes of Miles Davis seminal albums Birth of Cool and On the Corner as well as the mood of John Coltrane's Blue Train.
Although Scott's not the only local rapper taking influence from smoky jazz grooves, he has taken it further than most would dare; many tracks here hover around six or seven minutes. This is not lightweight fluff and there's no doubt it will be a challenging listen for those not hip to occasional bursts of jazz indulgence.
But it's the pairing of the music's moody, street vibes and Scott's lyrical confessions that make Avantdale Bowling Club such a powerful and rewarding listen.
You have to applaud the scope of his ambition. Scott could have played it safe and coasted up the charts. That he didn't, that he aimed much higher and produced an album that makes a statement and stands as a piece of art, and still rocketed up the charts, is a remarkable achievement.
Avantdale Bowling Club
Avantdale Bowling Club
Tom Scott rolls up an ambitious, rewarding, fusion of jazz and hip-hop