Hugo: Old Tyme Religion

Hugo: Old Tyme Religion
When Hugo was signed to Jay-Z‘s Roc Nation, it was inevitable that people would start trying to call him a gangsta rocker. The truth is there is very little hip hop about Hugo. On his Roc Nation debut album, Hugo delivers music that is like a modern Southern blues; but would you expect less from an album called Old Tyme Religion?
The album’s first single “Bread & Butter” is a good example. The track’s backbone is a hip hop drum beat but laid over it is acoustic guitar noodling and Hugo’s baritone vocals; it sounds like Morrison Hotel-era The Doors being remixed by Timbaland. So there is an element of hip hop to the song but it is all in the production; the vocals and lyrics show no hints of hip hop.
But because he is signed to Roc Nation, Hugo has to give more of a nod to hip hop than just production. That is why he covers Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” on the album. The cover takes a down-home southern approach to the song complete with banjos and a stomping beat. Hugo’s vocals take a new tenor that sounds closer to Jack White than Jim Morrison. But ultimately the cover feels a bit forced, like it is not quite in Hugo’s wheelhouse.
A lot of Old Tyme Religion feels out of Hugo’s wheelhouse. The album’s titular song begins the album with a whimper. The track’s hook is dud that starts off the album on the wrong foot. “Hopelessly Stoned” finally answers the question “what would Pink Floyd sound like if they were still making music today?” and the answer is “they would sound lame.” It is not to say that the album does not have some good moments but they are few.
Rating: 3.6/10
MP3: Hugo “Hopelessly Stoned”
Buy: iTunes or Amazon

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