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The Brainchild is the latest studio album from ‘underground’ hip-hop artist MC Kean (Michael McKean), who boasts that “authenticity, honesty and conviction” are what separates him from the bustling pack of Australian MCs. While the authenticity of Australian hip-hop is often critiqued, the lyrics of title track The Brainchild tells the usual tale of growing up in adverse situations and using music to forge a life away from the wrong side of the tracks. Characterised by repeating flares of brass and McKean’s steady steam rapping, The Brainchild features some smooth backing vocals borrowed from R’n'B. First track Masterpiece is almost uplifting with ascending brass, intermittent piano and jangling tambourine while Thanks for Witnessing has a electric piano groove that surely belongs in a lounge bar. Combined with sedated trumpet and syncopated cowbell McKean raps about being “the fattest rapper in the galaxy”. Hidden behind a looped trumpet, vibraphone and scrubbing guitar, the lyrics of Where We At, featuring Sareem Poems push to (again) convince us of McKean’s authenticity: “Damn I paid dues and earn my respect/Got empirical skills you cant learn from a text/Pulitzer Prize bitch and my verses are fresh,” and, “Speakin’ literature without a university degree.” Despite a shadow of RnB and jazz flavours, this album remains somewhat unremarkable, complete with an unsurprising track about succumbing to the media, entitled Ignorance is Bliss.

*1/2