By sheer coincidence, two new album releases this weekend are by home-grown independent music acts who proudly represent their home city as seen in their monikers.
LC93, or Lion City 93 comprise members of now-defunct bands such as Stompin' Ground, Voiceout, 4-Sides and Upright from the now classic Lion City Hardcore compilation CD released in 1993.
TheLionCityBoy is the nom de plume of Kevin Lester, a prominent rapper in Singapore's hip-hop scene.
Wiser Stronger Together from LC93 is a forceful statement of intent. Most of the tunes are reimagined versions of the songs from the 1993 compilation, performed with even more fury, clarity and aural aggressiveness than the originals.
Time has not mellowed the quintet - guitarists Suhaimi Subandie and Faisal Sahrol, singer Izar Ahmad, bassist Mohd Haermee Othman and drummer Ady Nur Iskander Shawal.
WISER STRONGER TOGETHER
S.N.O. Private Limited
The murky recordings of the old have given way to full-bodied productions that finally do justice to the precision that goes into the rapid-fire and often intricate rhythms essential in any good hardcore song.
The twin-guitar attacks go beyond chugging, palm-muted riffs and delve into a more colourful sonic palette, while Izar's blood- curdling screams are a rallying call-to-arms boisterous enough to fire up any moshpit.
There is a certain thrill to hearing cover versions that surpass the originals and LC93's record is an exhilarating retread of the past.
TheLionCityBoy's moody raps tread the other end of the musical spectrum, but is no less compelling than LC93's sound and fury.
Paradise is the work of an artist who takes copious amounts of inspiration from contemporary American rappers such as Kanye West and A$AP Rocky, but at the same time, anchor the songs with a keen observation of personal and Singapore issues.
He cops the foreign accent, but there is a lot of smart wordplay that alludes to issues such as public holidays ("Wait until you see my money flowin' like February holidays" - Start Already One Seven), his Indian/Eurasian lineage ("Home- grown but still they can't tell where I'm from" - Not Over) and public scandals ("When I'm standing at the money tree/I'll be thanking God like I'm Kong Hee from CHC" - Not Over).
The nine tunes, with production from rising home-grown talent Flightsch, are stylistically diverse. Yaya, featuring a hook by The Sam Willows' Benjamin Kheng, is an earnest play at radio-friendly pop, while Interval, featuring a heavily modulated Charlie Lim, is a prismatic trip.
The title track ventures into dark R&B, not unlike The Weeknd, while My Way, featuring Gentle Bones' sinuous melodies, balances an atmospheric production with confident bluster ("You say I'm an entertainer/I'm really just a playwright").
This is one home-grown wordsmith with a musically savvy outlook and a keen ear to the ground.