Who are Spooks? In their own words - an international organisation involved in ongoing battles to infiltrate enemy territory. Their goal? Operation Hijack the Planet to insert diversity, creativity and risk back into hip-hop culture.
In fact the spooks are four MCs - Mr Booka-T, Aqua Dinero, Hypno, and Vengeance - and a female vocalist Ming Xia. And their plan for global domination has not got off to a very good start. They achieved only moderate success in the US and Europe, where S.I.O.S.O.S. (Spooks Is On Some Other S***) has been out for a few months but firmly eclipsed by releases from Eminem, Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg and the Wu Tang Clan's offerings last year. Undeterred, Spooks are now targeting Asia, where hip-hop has been gaining considerable ground.
But S.I.O.S.O.S. is unlikely to fare any better. Spooks' high-and-mighty ambitions are so grand they appear unable to carry the burden. The album spans genres as diverse as jazz, reggae and nu-soul, but the hardcore/gangsta rap of the four MCs is often clumsily arranged. Ming Xia's Sade-esque smooth vocals provide a sweet contrast, not least on Sweet Revenge, one of two of the better tracks along with the jazz-tinged single Things I've Seen. It indicates promise of things to come, but on this album the Spooks are biting off more than they can chew.