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The Busy Signals

Pretend Hits (Sugar Free)

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Howard W. Hamilton III reportedly supplements his income as the sole member of The Busy Signals by using eBay to sell discs of drum sounds to hip-hop beatmakers. Perhaps he should include a complimentary copy of The Busy Signals' second record, Pretend Hits, to instruct his cyberbidders how best to utilize the raw materials he provides. Hamilton starts with his sturdy beats, then decorates them with sing-along melodies, beeps and samples. He moves effortlessly from the upbeat groove of "The New You" to the ominous strains of "The Freeway," which features Elephant 6 guru Robert Schneider (one of the album's many guests; Phonte' and Har Mar Superstar also contribute). Pretend Hits jumps from new-wave folk to straight-up new wave to dank hip-hop to sunny soul on a whim, the beats anchoring the eclectic mix. Hamilton titled Pretend Hits with a dash of sarcasm, but in a musically just world his success wouldn't be of the make-believe variety.

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