Hip hop can often be over-produced and feel artificial. In addition, a lot of hip hop albums have a similar kind of texture to them, feeling like multiple versions of the same song. This album fully avoids that over-produced artificial trap and it skips the monolithic element more often than not. In fact, the music here manages to cross into a number of different musical styles, from Rock in Opposition to punk rock to jazz to heavy metal and progressive rock. That really keeps it interesting and there are only a few points where it feels a little redundant.
The music that opens “The Fi King” is strange, but also tasty. It feels like some kind of science fiction film music. As the rap comes in there’s an extremely low bass type sound running in the backdrop. It’s a great piece of music that does an awesome job of starting the set in fine fashion. “A.Tone” has a more stripped back arrangement, but that extra-low sound is heard on this cut, too. While there’s not as much going on, that doesn’t mean this is any less potent. In fact, the tasty musical mix, combined with a well-developed vocal arrangement, makes this a real winner.
With “Machine Gun” it drops down in quality a bit. The cut is mostly rhythmic and not as interesting or powerful as the two openers. Still, it’s reasonably good, just a step down. Although, some of the lyrics talk about “hear the snare drum like a machine gun” and that’s precisely what you get on the track. Weird bits of electronic music circle around in “Sherman.” It’s one of the strangest pieces on the set, but also pretty interesting. While “P.A.I.N.” is noisy with layers of sound effects and music combining in the arrangement, it’s also one of the coolest cuts on show. It really doesn’t feel far removed from some experimental music and the rap works quite well over the top of it. Storm like sound effects are the main element throughout the piece.
“Lose Your Mind” is another that’s noisy. It’s a bit like some Rock in Opposition piece mixed with heavy metal. Of course, the rap brings it more into hip hop territory. Some particularly cool electronic music serves as the backdrop for “Too Hot.” The cut, along with the next one, features Sean Spellz. It has a great groove to it and is one of the stronger pieces of the set. The music backdrop on “Gee Whiz” is quite odd and quirky, but it’s got a great rhythmic element and the rap is strong. “Ocean” feels rather like symphonic electronic music.
There is a bit of a jazzy sound on “They Told Me” and it has a slow sultry kind of groove to it. It’s a tasty tune. “Anti-Christ” includes some chant-like vocals and a tolling bell in the arrangement. It’s also got one of the cooler raps of the set. “He Fi” is very rhythmic and includes multiple layers of vocals (also often rhythmic) for great effect. It’s another highlight. “Sonic Flow” is much faster and the rap has (as one might expect from the title) an exceptional flow. The cut is another that’s unusual and yet quite cool.
With female vocals provided by guest Nina B. Blank, “Light My Fire” combines an electronic backdrop with nearly symphonic bits of melody and strong raps. “Not Waiting” is noisy, and nearly metallic. It has some more metal like vocals along with the raps. More of a traditional hip hop sound is heard on “Long Time” and the rap is what really works the best on the tune, although there are some nice symphonic elements.
It there’s a loser on the set it’s “King.’ There’s a weird vocal bit used as a loop that is really annoying. The rap on the cut is strong, and manages to keep the number from being completely un-listenable, but it would work much better without that little loop. While some of the music on “My Angels” seems a bit out of key, the punk rock meets surf music texture to it makes a great change. It is a little odd and might not be the best choice to end the set, but it’s also quite interesting. There is a hidden track on the set, another punky jam that’s quite compelling.
Some of the music on this set tends to be a bit abrasive. That’s not necessarily a bad thing (in fact, it makes it interesting) but it does mean that the audience for this gets somewhat limited to people with tastes leaning towards more experimental music. There’s plenty to like here, though, for fans of hip hop and those who like music that’s adventurous.
Review by G. W. Hill
Rating: 4.5 Stars (out of 5)