Album Reviews

Album Review: Church & AP - Teeth (YKK)

Sam Smith

The rise of Auckland hip hop duo Church & AP over the last year has been astronomical. From underground student radio act in 2018 to mainstream hitmakers in 2019, Elijah Manu and Albert Purcell have taken the local music scene by storm while also gaining the attention of international ears in the form of BBC Radio One and Triple J DJs. Given this, it seemed appropriate that they marked their successful year-long rise by releasing their first official album Teeth.

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Recorded at Red Bull Music Studios in Auckland and produced by exciting up-and-coming beatmaker Dera Meelan, Teeth sees Church & AP showing off their evolution as artists, with their musical style at times unrecognisable from their beginnings early last year, something they themselves have acknowledged.

Teeth kicks off with the one-two punch of popular singles Dandelion and Roulette. Both have shown commercial potential and hint at the sort of direction Teeth would take with a slightly more mainstream rap sound than their earlier material. There are catchy hooks and banging beats aplenty here and already these two singles have become club mainstays around Auckland.

But it is not just all about trying to draw a pop or club crowd on Teeth. The alternative musical sensibilities that made 2018 tracks such as Alladat student radio hits appear again on tracks such as Knock Knock, Oligarch, and album standout Hello Hello. Here, the beats are quite minimal and sparse, while both MC’s mix things up vocally with different delivery tones and vocal trickery.

Aside from the obvious vocal talents of both Manu and Purcell, the definite star of Teeth is no doubt Dera Meelan. The young producer has been providing beats to rappers in the burgeoning south Auckland hip hop scene for over a year, and he is a definite star in the making with a very unique production sound that is quite industrial in places, if not quite lo-fi. This style of production is something that is quite outside the norm of modern-day mainstream rap production and highlights if anything that Meelan is keen to develop his own style rather than copy any current trends.

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Overall, with Teeth, Church & AP have cemented their rise to the top of New Zealand hip hop. They are one of the most exciting acts in New Zealand and the scary thing is they are just getting started. They now have a collection of songs that many in New Zealand music would beg for and their ability to cross musically between the alternative and mainstream lanes makes them a versatile prospect in an industry that is all too eager to box people into strict categories.

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The sky is pretty much the limit for Church & AP and I only expect them to build from here and continue to grow as both vocalists, songwriters and performers. Whatever they do next, I cannot wait to see as you know it will be fresh and different from Teeth, something which in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Click here to stream or buy
Released: 15 Nov 2019

Written By: Sam Smith When he is not writing for Radio 13 Sam works in media and journalism at 95bFM radio and the University of Auckland. He also has is own personal music blog Nowhere Bros.