Rushden & Diamonds' latest disc is either high-life fantasy or an insider joke

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      2020 (Volunteer Media)

      I will confess that I have no idea who Rushden & Diamonds are. Oh, sure, they’re Vancouver hip-hop producers whose most notable accomplishment to date has been landing two songs on the soundtrack to the Sega game Anarchy Reigns.

      But given that “Rushden and Diamonds” is the name of a football club in the U.K., it’s a sure bet that “Michael Rushden” and “Karl Lord Edward Diamonds” are pseudonyms.

      There is evidently some sort of elaborate back story here, and 2020 is in fact a sequel to 2010, which came out in its eponymous year. No idea what any of it’s about, but there are plenty of references to yachts and Maseratis and all sorts of other fetish objects of conspicuous consumption that—let’s keep it real here—underground hip-hop producers from Vancouver can possess only in their dreams. All of which suggests that the whole thing is an exercise in high-life fantasy and/or wink-wink-nudge-nudge comedy.

      The love-me-down beats of “Afterparty Afternoon” and “Last Time” sound like someone’s Reagan-era cocaine dreams, while the 8-bit arcade beats of “Own World” suggest that video-game scores are exactly where this duo belongs.

      Whoever Rushden & Diamonds really are, these guys have made some notable friends; guests on 2020 include Kool Keith and KutMasta Kurt. That’s pretty impressive, admittedly, but it doesn’t make the record any less of a head-scratcher for those not in on the joke.