Stypes is Aaron and Adam, a Chicago-based duo. They’ve been performing together for almost ten years, but the absence of a full length release has kept them from reaching a larger audience. Hopefully they’ve found a good home at Kitchen Dip, because 7 Stories High shows promise.

Most production duties on this EP are handled by Toronto-based producer incise. Wax Buzzard from the UK and SoulChef from Auckland each contribute a track as well. The EP has a late ‘80s/early ‘90s feel to it, with lots of playful songs built off of funk and jazz samples - plenty of funky drums and horns. In that sense, Stypes also remind me of Ugly Duckling. The difference, though, is that UD has two distinct emcees and a deejay/producer that can really throw down. When you’re working with a retro sound, you need to add something to make your record count, and this is where I think Stypes need some work. I enjoy the EP fine, but there aren’t any “wow” moments. I didn’t get a sense of each emcee’s personality, so I’m still left with a general impression of their rhyme skills as opposed to being able to pick apart the individual components and see how they fit into the whole.

I hope that Stypes best music lies ahead. 7 Stories High is a fun listen, it just doesn’t make as strong of an impact as I’d hoped. I love hip hop circa ‘88-‘92 as much as anybody, but if you’re not putting your own stamp on it, I might as well just dig into my records. Hopefully Stypes emerges with a more distinct sound in the near future.