Farez - “Persianality”

Tapesh Records/MZM Records
2007 (1386)

In the early stages of the digitalisation of our UNDERGROUND music and its appearance on the World Wide Web, the Persian HIP HOP genre was fronted by mainly a trio calling themselves Farez! By being constantly active in different forums and spreading their amateur songs and videos in the Iranian community online Milad, Hafez and Kamyar started to establish themselves as one of the first acts in a long line of Iranian rappers to come. And now after few years of presence and persistence they’ve managed to have themselves signed to Tapesh Records for a commercial release via the MZM Records. What’s strange is that the list of credits presents NONE of the composers for the songs on the album (merits a “---” in ethical adherence for an almost total negligence, often an indication to a rip off-rich album!), just the “musical producers” and the lyricists! For the lyrics stand Reza, Milad, Hafez, Kamyar, Kousha Sefid and Monika. “Persianality” features 11 tracks and several guest performances.

The album kicks off with an ARABESQUE REGGAETON fare called “Aamar”. Its a well-produced and -preformed opener with an excellent appearance by Sepideh whose attitude and image give the boys’ an eligible match unlike some of the upcoming constellations on the album! Making this fare flowing on and FUNKing you up to the DANCE-FLOORS! The album gives no credit to any composer for the song and I have been tipped that this track might have an original in English, if that is the case I would like anyone who does know the name and title of the original artist and song to kindly email me and I’ll post an update on it in my blog under the “Review Update” section.

The next song opens very suspiciously familiar! Its either an OLDIE that I cant put my finger on or a Turkish song it reminds of! “Persianality” is unlike its title and theme rather Turko-ARABESQUE in a Jamshid Sheybani-esque way to be exactly. The guys perform bilingually and are backed up by none other than Shahrum Kashani. Just like the previous track the rapping is very messy and hard to make out.

17 years ago Andy & Kouros covered late Pouran’s classic “Niloofar” as a smooth POP song in their “Balla” album. Today Farez’ remake of that very song featuring Andy & Kouros sounds like the “messed up” version that the Andy & Kouros’ remake never became! And to know that Farokh “Elton” Ahi produced both versions with such a gigantic drop of quality over the years does make the disappointment even more hurtful! You can hardly hear what’s being rapped and the preserved segments from the original cover is extremely spoiled in the mixing! I cant believe that they haven’t given credits to either the lyricist or the composer of this song while all they had to do was too check the A&K album which they’ve covered this song from!

When I first saw Shahrzad Sepanlou’s name as the featured guest artist on a song with a title like “Raahraftanet“ I had a hard time imagining the constellation! Two artists from opposite sides of the spectrum, theoretically contradictory and not compatible in any way! But what I love is artists who aren’t afraid of challenges and in all honesty we have seen it work before so despite my reservations I was eager to hear how and exactly where this lady and the boys had managed to meet and compromise lyrically and musically. A “ballad” was my best guess! But listening to the song my worst fears were realised in the fact that these two poles hadn’t managed to meet AT ALL! It wasn’t a ballad at all and the boys were as the title indicates cheeky with their walking observations, by then I got really shocked and needless to say thrilled to hear the lady meeting what’s been delivered so far in the second verse but as expected Shahrzad was just as reserved and sophisticated in her performance and attitude as she always is! In other words totally incompatible! Musically the song is among the best on the album but when it comes to the conceptualisation the equation just doesn’t add up in any way! Their womanising and her romanticising were parts of two worlds apart!

One of their first songs “1, 2, 3 (Dance Version)” comes as the parenthesis says in a more dance friendly version with a more WEST COAST/G-FUNK flavour! It should be mentioned that when this song and its likes from ZedBazi came out a couple of years ago 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” and other similar Dr.Dre/Eminem productions ruled the charts!

“Dokhtar Irooni” is another early track by the boys and still one of the songs that is more authentic in its approach and style despite the overproduction in this version featuring Mahsa and Mohamad!

In the same path walks “Mehmooni” but in amore interesting fashion thanks to the featured rapper Delshodhegun’s unique style which stands out in this rather monotonously generic HIP HOP genre of ours!

“Donbaale Haal” doesn’t really enjoy the same boost and beat but still much better than the songs featured on the first half of the album!

Musically one of the better songs on the album with an excellent performance by Farshid Amin who’s in his right element here. “Dokhtar” is the first song where I can actually make out what’s being rapped throughout the song!

A touch of the psychedelic EAST COAST Electro-HIP HOP in Farez’ motherland nostalgia. “Chamedoon” is rather short but nice, the further we get on this album the more interesting and engaging side takes over! However still overproduced for the worse!

And finally the original version of “1, 2, 3” with its much appreciated simple FUNK and FLOW and crystal clear rapping! A reminder of how good the guys can actually be IF not being weighed down by the commercial attributes of the production!

What can I say, “Persianality” is an album which enjoys two strong back-up forces, one is the “ambition” of the group itself which is obvious to everyone who has witnessed how hard they’ve worked to make themselves heard through the past three years. The other is the creative mind and experience of someone like Ali Reza Amirghassemi who has in his more than 20 years in the LA-industry developed and presented the best of concepts and projects and I‘m sure that the packing of the album with guest appearances is mostly due to his efforts. Therefore its strange to see that despite all the force and resource behind the project the result is to such level underwhelming! “Persianality” sounds messy, its overproduced yet underdeveloped at the same time! The songs’ amateurish simplicity and charm have been removed and instead replaced with generic ingredients and packaging! Another, more serious shortcoming in this album is the weaknesses in the boys’ performance. They are definitely not made for the “rapid rapping” which they aspire to far too often on this album and if they want to deliver a SANDY-style of comic-relief HIP HOP in these days, which the boys do whether they like to acknowledge or not, you simply cant hold back on creativity and innovation. Especially with all the amateur acts around who are least said clever, if not genius, in their poetry and rhyming. Therefore Farez’ performance doesn’t hold long with all the emergency rhyming and scrambled rapping, even for a light-hearted style of HIP HOP! The guest performances are there but not always for the better! At times the contradiction in the themes as well as the quality of performances get to big to avoid!

We at the Bia2 forum know that Farez are a great bunch of guys, ambitious, funny and kind-hearted! Its hard not to like them, even though their talents are to such level crude and unrefined. Are these excellent qualities enough to make good or better yet “popular” artists out of them eventually? We don’t know, it all depends on them and how they choose to take their career further!

Overall Performance: +
Artistic Ambition: +++
Commercial Potential: ++
Technical Quality: ++
Aesthetic Presentation: +
Ethical Adherence: ---
[ +++ > --- ]

Review by: Pourya E.

Reviews described herein are mere opinions, and must be construed in that manner only! In other words they are not absolute!