Artist: Nowledge Of Self
Album: We’re Here Now EP
Rating: 7 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
Nowledge Of Self is a Tampa based 3 man crew, whose debut album “We’re Here Now” is due to drop soon. In the past they’ve opened up at gigs for KRS-One, Buck Shot, Trick Daddy and Camp-Lo. Crew member Seif offered to hook me up with a promo EP of the impending release, featuring 5 cuts – how could I refuse?
Seif is originally from Amityville in Long Island, and cites typical New York Hiphop artists like Tribe, De La, and Das EFX, along with jazz great John Coltrane amongst his influences. In 1996 he hooked up with other members Black R.O.S.E. and IL’ Logic to form NOS. Il Logic hails from Fayetteville, NC and has an father, sister and uncle in the music business. Unsurprisingly he was bitten by the bug too. Black R.O.S.E. meanwhile is a no-nonsense, down to earth, southern bred cat. With such varying life experiences and influences amongst them, lets see if their ideas compliment or clash with each other…
The first cut, ‘New Era’ is preceded by a short radio drop where the announcer mentions the group by the name Rugged T’Reign. This seems to be a somewhat confusing alternative name which the group sometimes rocks. Confusing? Well let me explain using the ill ‘New Era’ cut as an example. Rugged is the last word I would use to describe this – a butter smooth, laidback track throwing up images of the Roots, Slum Village and A Tribe Called Quest. Dope? Yes. Rugged? Nah.
Anyways… the next cut ‘Summer Time’ utilises the overused but still catchy Roy Ayers ‘Everybody Loves The Sunshine’ sample as its hook. Again comparisons to the Roots can be drawn, this time not only in terms of the smooth beats, and catchy beatboxing, but also from the emcee styles, which are straight from the Black Thought school of rhyming. Nothing wrong with this at all though – the Roots are dope, Black Thought is dope, and thus ‘Summer Time’ is dope. Two for two.
Cut three, ‘Voices In My Head’ is little more than an instrumental with vocal samples dropped in and out of the mix. Its a total departure from the last couple of cuts – the production is much darker for starters. Samuel L Jackson speeches from “187” (I think) sit alongside recorded telephone calls, in a messy hotch potch of noise. The overall theme of the track seems to be a rallying call against the ills of society, and how we must teach our children to make smart decisions – not to follow the wrong paths that their peers often take. Despite the concious message this one doesn’t do anything for me at all. The production was pretty uninspiring, and the cut lacked a real sense of direction.
Thankfully ‘What’ pulls things back onto an even keel – a bouncy cut featuring echoing horns and a kicking snare wrapped around a “What-tigga-what-tigga-what-tigga-WHAT!” Q-Tip sample over which the emcees fire out some more quickfire battle lyrics.
The last cut is probably the best on here, and helps Nowledge Of Self to avoid a potential Roots/ Tribe copycat label. ‘Dirty South’ features an incredibly catchy piano tinged beat which is complimented by a superb strings sample. Black R.O.S.E. goes for delf here, and more than holds his own. Another hot cut, but unfortunately the last one on here.
And there you have it… 5 cuts – 4 winners – the only real downfall for this joint being its brevity. The Tribe influence shines through in terms of mic styles, samples, and production techniques, but this ain’t really a bad thing. In addition ‘Dirty South’ shows another dimension, and I have to admit to being impressed by Black R.O.S.E’s lyrical dexterity. Keep an eye on Nowledge Of Self – with a bit of luck, you may be hearing a lot more from them in the future.