Posted on June 17th, 2015 (3:00 pm) by Aaron Tremper

Although the Italian production duo of Francesco "Phra" Barbaglia and Andrea "Bot" Fratangelo had formidable success making music with the likes of Kid Cudi, Kelis, will.i.am, and Pitbull, the partnership eventually split after Fratangelo’s departure following 2011’s Dr. Gonzo. An iconic pioneer in the “hip house” scene, Crookers returns (sans “Bot,” that is) with their eclectic new studio record, Sixteen Chapel.

Barbaglia named the set after a common flub by tourists at the Sistine Chapel, who often mistakenly refer to the national treasure best known for its frescoes by Michangelo as the “Sixteen Chapel.” The title, of course, is only one of many humorous moments threaded throughout the album. Having originally DJed Italian hip-hop music at the age of eleven, “Phra” returns to his roots on Sixteen Chapel, which utilizes everything from viral Youtube videos to skits to fashion a gritty, yet undeniably cheeky mix.

In an interview with Elektro Daily, Phra revealed how much of the material for Sixteen Chapel came from Barbaglia’s vault of unfinished productions, which includes rarities from both the Crooker Era and collaborations with Lucky Beard Records. Another nod to Crookers' past can be found in the album’s extensive use of their trademark Akai Music Production Controller, an all-inclusive MIDI sampler with the capability to sample a user’s own recordings. Tracks like the dark house stomper, “Heavy,” and the TJR and Antwon featuring hip-hop of “Strokin,” layer extensive vocal samples that accentuate the album’s raunchy mood. Meanwhile, “Micio Micio” makes hilarious use of the notorious Youtube phenom, “No No No No Cat,” in one of two skits that reflect Phra’s past as a Hip Hop MC.

The album’s slew of collaborations and hip-hop vibe recall the much anticipated release of Jack Ü’s debut album. Standouts such as the closer, “Ghetto Guetta,” and collaboration with Jeremih, “I Just Can’t,” capitalize on hard-hitting beats and slicing synths and are destined to be this year’s underground club hits. Meanwhile, other tracks, such as Mr. MFN eXquire’s “Belly Button Tickler,” sour a promising synth vamp with awkward references to Michelangelo and unabashed sexual braggadocio. In short, each of the track’s features run the risk of either making or breaking Phra’s pristine production.

Dark, eclectic, and cheeky, Sixteen Chapel salvages many of Barbaglia trademark moves. Crookers still manages to integrate the outlandish textures and sounds that made the one-time duo a formidable act. Despite Bot’s departure, Phra still manages to make solid records bound to rev up crowds on both sides of the ocean.

Track List:

  1. 1+1=1 (Intro)
  2. Picture This (featuring Dilligas)
  3. Able To Maximize
  4. I Just Can’t (featuring Jeremih)
  5. Micio Micio (Skit)
  6. Heavy
  7. Belly button Tickler (featuring MFN eXquire)
  8. Strokin’ (featuring TJR & ANtwon)
  9. Get Excited (featuring STS)
  10. Ghetto Guetta
  11. Eyes Eyes Baby (skit)

[This album was released in the US on 6/16]

Crookers - Sixteen Chapel Review
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

66 / 100
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