Album: Burgundy Brown
Label: BLX Records
Rating: 7.5 / 10
‘To be, or not to be’ : in a posse, that is. The age-old question (some might call it a problem) of hip hop and its aspirants. You’re looking to break big as an artists, or break, period, and you have the chance to fall in with a camp or collective of artists. Group acclaim, when and if it follows, can be a double-edged sword: all the bonuses of recognition, while often times making an artist anonymous. Even when you finally get a chance to drop your solo effort, the results are more than likely to be, shall we say, less than warmly received (members of NWA, Wu, et. al, notwithstanding).
Next to test these dangerous waters is Omni, a member of the Gershwin BassLine Xcursionists (B.L.X.) camp, along with Crag Malkovich, MOLMan, Sklim Milx, ABCDEFG and DJ See Brown. Having already been heavily featured on B.L.X.’s “Sunch Punch”, and on the heels of 2001’s Funkdafied Freddy, Omni is shining on his own with “Burgundy Brown”. And don’t fear, this solo project is more Ghostface than U-God, to very satisfying effect.
Featuring production from members of B9000 Powerhouse out of Belgium, as well as guest spots from his fellow B.L.X. compatriots, this LP runs as an ideal companion to the earlier group album. Starting with tracks like ‘American African’ with Earganic interpolating what sounds like an African children’s choir on the hook, Omni shines over an assortment of beats that never overwhelm his voice, but remind the listener of time spent in a jazz poetry cafe, listening to grooves being laid down as accompaniment, rather than lead. Not quite party music, but the emphasis here rests squarely on Omni’s lyricism. Tracks like ‘Wait’ and ‘Music’ are delivered confidently, with Omni using the tracks to his advantage as he drops rhymes that range from inspirational to braggadocio.
There are even a couple of lovely extras for the instrumentally inclined. Tucked at the back end of ‘Wait’ is nearly a minute of instrumental, riding out after a snippet of Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have A Dream’. There’s also a two minute standalone long jazz instrumental, produced by Leggo, anchored by a double bass line.
It’s not a perfect album, though. ‘Amores Perros’ is tanked by a grating chorus of Omni chanting “Ay, Ay, Ayyy : Ay carumba”, and lyrics that sometimes stray towards incomprehensibility. The closing track, ‘Until Tomorrow’ is ambiguously reassuring and depressing at once; a strange way to end a strong set, if ever there was one. However, the quality in other spots overrides what few shortcomings might be present.
Overall, Omni is representing B.L.X. and himself quite well on this one : maybe it’s something in that West Coast water, because those camps are putting out strong group and solo work at a clip that puts some other regions to shame. A solid buy for those looking for quality; listen to the man, ‘Titan Up’ and cop good music.