The first time I met Mister Speed was in a kebab shop in Sunshine. I was interviewing Raceless from Curse Ov Dialect and he had just picked up Mister Speed and his cohort from the New Pollutants from the airport for their show together later that evening. Whilst Raceless and I gorged into the lamb, the New Pollutants went for falafels. One of them was wearing a Buck 65 t-shirt. It turns out that this is important.
There are definite links to Buck’ oeuvre on Mr Speed’ debut solo release and there’ no doubt that he is or was an important figure for Mister Speed. It’s in the way that the rhymes are constructed, so tidily around the beat, smooth unhurried phrases that reach for the gravel in the voice yet always pause at the end of the bar. It’s a highly literate approach, part limerick, part short story, all told to rhyme and incredibly effective.
Though The Dreamer also demonstrates Mister Speed moving beyond Buck’ somewhat limited reaches. There’ a certain sincere yet kitsch world music thread throughout his music, that draws upon Bollywood soundtracks, ’50s go go music, Turkish wedding music and French ballroom fare. Then there’ that whole laptop electronic crunch where he seems to combine all of these influences in one funky assed tune like the track ‘Nudity,’ which goes through numerous changes, utilising all manner of conflicting short attention span samples, where he doesn’ even need the mic to tear it up and blow our minds. And it’s here that you begin to listen to the album differently, and begin to understand the complexity of his craft. Despite the spectre of Buck floating around its edges this is an inventive energy filled debut, it’s self assured, hilarious and sad. It’s hip-hop with soul that strays far from hip hop’ roots into this bizarre role playing where Mr Speed takes on various alter egos, singing in accents, whispering in your ear or cutting it from the dance floor. He’ got killer production, but perhaps more importantly he’ got range and dexterity.
Bob Baker Fish