REVIEW: All About The Music Volume 1

All About The Music Volume 1

Artist: Various

Album: J.Greede Presents… All About The Music Volume 1

Label: Greede Records

Rating: 4.5 / 10

Reviewer: A to the L

J Greede’s compilation promises to showcase some of the nicest underground artists in Boston over his own production. As a producer, his sound has graced everything from local artists and radio to national television – its a nice little track record to bring to the table.

As you progress through the album it becomes clear however that this is unfortunately little more than an average underground compilation. The underground compilation album blueprint goes like this…

It usually lacks any kind of quality control – there’ll always be some people who don’t necessarily have the skills to carry a track, and yet they still manage to get on the mic because they’re down with the posse. There’ll also always be one cat who stands head and shoulders above the rest… a cat who you wish had got MORE mic time. Finally, because the thing is usually produced on a low budget, you’re usually gonna get a producer who makes beats with whatever equipment he can get his hands on – now this ain’t always a bad thing, but often you’ll get a bag of beats that sound very similar, with no real creative spark that makes things really come alive.

Now lets run down the blueprint and see how J.Greede’s compilation does…

Quality Control issue? Check. Paris Azelle and Mohogany are two singers who just don’t cut it. They get a track each (‘Leave It To Me’ and ‘Be That Girl’) to prove this, and in both instances the girls prove that although they can hold notes, their whole sound just screams ‘amateur’ – their vocals just aren’t polished enough to carry a whole track, or even background vocals. As far as the emcees go however, most do little more than a competently average job – Lace Payne aside though, there’s none who stand out as particularly interesting. The nicest underground emcees in Boston? I think not.

Emcee who stands out from the crowd? Check. As already mentioned, Dorchester’s Layce Payne takes this award – his work on the introspective ‘Piece Of Mind’, and the later ‘Corner Standers’ is worthy of high praise. Unfortunately the rambling chorus on ‘Piece Of Mind’ ruins an otherwise excellent song.

Production issues? Check. At many points throughout “All About The Music” Greede’s beats sound rather ‘cheap’, with a distinct lack of oomph and urgency coating many tracks in a layer of blandness. At times, for example on OVM’s ‘Rebels’ remix, poor production goes hand in hand with uninspiring mic-work, and / or a disappointingly formulaic chorus to render many tracks little more than skip fodder.

As I’ve already mentioned, Layce Payne apart, the other emcees ain’t really doing anything to move me here. With four spots on a fourteen track album, you’d expect D.One to perhaps back up his abundance of appearances with something of substance, but he falls into typical ‘hungry emcee rhyming for a deal’ territory – its not that he’s bad, its just that he doesn’t do anything that makes him stand out from the crowd. Other emcees such as Evik, Mr Right, and El*A*Kwents lace tracks with a similarly anonymous flow. The only other rapper beside Layce of note in fact is Freshton Flav, and that’s really only because he’s still a kid.

All in all, its standard indie-label Hiphop. Not good, not bad… more teetering on the brink of average. The production from J.Greede, and the majority of emcees and singers here are interchangable with a plethora of other producers, emcees and singers up and down the country. In the Hiphop world of 2004 where everybody wants to be a dj, everybody wants to be an emcee, this is further evidence that yes everybody CAN be either, but it takes a certain ‘something else’ to leave a lasting imprint.

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