What? An album from Kool Keith, Roc Marcinao, O.G. & A.G., Dave Dar, Kurious and Ray West is being released just weeks after Kool Keith quit rap? Where did this come from? Why was this only announced a few weeks ago? How did these guys even get together to form this super group? Is it any good? In short, yes it is good, but read on for the full details.
Investigative reports reveal that this album is more the result of recording a few tracks during encounters at the label Red Apples 45's studio, rather than the members pursuing and forming an actual group that tours, releases an album or two and then bickers amongst themselves until they inevitably self-implode and break up. Looking at the track list you can see that the album is mostly solo tracks with some collaborations between two of three of the group's members. So it is a bit disappointing to find out that you wont hear them all on the same track.
An original album with so many artists lives or dies by the producer. The producer needs to provide solid musical foundations that work with each artist's individual style (and in the case of super groups, their egos). Ray West does an admirable job of making his melting pot of sounds work for each artist as well as providing a seamless transition into the next track's sound. You can walk around New York City and see a magnitude of completely different sights, smells and sounds, yet nothing seems that out of place, and this is pretty much what Ray West has managed to achieve.
As you would expect, most of the lyrical content is about the rappers experiences and roots in NYC as well as the changes it has gone through. The opening track 'Legacy' is O.C.'s story. The chanting in the background has a strange way of pulling you and tuning you into the details of this tale...but then Quasimoto samples kind of make you snap out of it. As indicated by their titles, the next two tracks 'Egyptology' and 'Snake Charmer' have a "world music" sound. They also feature a good lineup of the album's artists and are amongst the album's top tracks. There is an interlude 'The Ritual' in the middle which seems a bit unnecessary due to the short length of the album. For me the most memorable song on the album is 'Pressure Up'. Kool Keith repeats
Can he measure up? Pressure up, pressure up, possibly referring to big city life in NYC or releasing an album full of NYC rap veterans. The latter is not anything that he needs to be worried about, but it seems like the some of the pressure got to him when he mixes up his Toms and says
Run on Oprah's couch like Tom Hanks. O.C.'s spoken word summary of 'Random' events is a poignant outro as any and provides a good closing.
I would have like to have heard more than 34 minutes. I would have liked to have heard more collaborative tracks over solos. I would have liked to have heard more Dave Dar, Kurious, O.C. (only has solo tracks!) and Roc Marcinao. But the album is what it is. Thankfully, what it is, is a great compilation from a collection of New York rappers. It is very unexpected to hear these guys on the same album, so to get a surprise like this is something to be thankful for. Ray West deserves extra credit for being the glue that makes it work and ensures that there are no tracks that need to be skipped. Good album. More please.
- Snake Charmer
- Pressure Up
- Intro (interlude)
- Legacy feat. O.C.
- Egyptology feat. A.G. & Roc Marciano
- Snake Charmer feat. A.G., Kurious & Dave Dar
- Extreme Status feat. A.G. & Kool Keith
- The Ritual (interlude) feat. Sean G
- Shorties Watching feat. Kurious
- These Rappers Under the Hex feat. A.G.
- Last Night Finesse feat. Dave Dar
- I Been Luvin U feat. Kool Keith
- Pressure Up feat. Kool Keith & Roc Marciano
- The Blues Got Ya feat. A.G.
- Acid feat. O.C.
- Random feat. A.G.