Artist: The Procussions
Album: …As Iron Sharpens Iron
Label: Basementalism Records
Rating: 7.5 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
“Procussion is a hybrid of two main elements: the prefix, Pro, and the root, Cussion. €œPro € can either stand for prefessional or positive, and Cussion is taken from the word percussion, which means to impress a sound up on the ear. When fused together, the two elements create the definition of this musical movement. (i.e. Progressive Sound, Professional Sound, Protesting Sound, Probing Sound, Procuring Sound, The Procussions Sound.”
So goes the blurb on The Procussions’ own website… now what the hell does it mean in English?
Well first of all lets break down who these cats are – the Procussions originally had six members, but at present are rolling with just three on active duty – Stro The 89th Key is both an emcee and the producer of the group, while Mr. J Medeiros and Resonant are not just emcees, but also skilled in the fields of music (Medeiros gets down on the drums and piano) and in graphic and web design, and PR (Resonant.) Coming out of Los Angeles via Colorado, they’ve paid their dues and put in work, by performing and touring with artists like Redman, Dilated Peoples, Run DMC, and Digital Underground amongst others.
So they’ve walked the walked… its now time to see if “As Iron Sharpens Iron” proves that these guys talk the talk…
The first thing that jumps out as you move through the album is the beats. The trio have succeeded in bringing to the table a set of widely varied beats, which sees them steering away from a signature sound, and giving the listener several different looks at the talents in the group. Hiphop-wise, there’s obvious influences from Pharcyde, PUTS, Tribe, and Pete Rock (think jazzy samples and fat loops) – and I think most people would agree that ain’t no bad thing.
Right from jump, with ‘The Beginning’, the Procussions light things up. With a cinematic choir sample chanting “This is the beginning” over and over, and a simple but effective boom-bap drum track bumping happily along in the background, Mr J introduces himself, and by extension his two homies, and welcomes you to the album…
“It’s the first step, a new day, the writing’s on a new page
The opening note to a song we hope that you play…”
As already mentioned, the varied influences on display make this quite an interesting album to work through. ‘The Intro’ whether intentional or not, is a distant cousin to Diamond D’s ‘I’m Outta Here’ – the similarity on the horns is striking. ‘Wegotta’ and second single, ‘Leave Her Alone’ throw up comparisons with Pharcyde or “Love Movement”-era Tribe, while ‘Water’s Edge’ gives off the same warm jazzy glow that vintage Pete Rock production carries off effortlessly. (Perhaps its unfair to compare the Procussions’ work to already well established artists, but understand that I ain’t doing this for negative reasons. I’m using these artists as a way to get over to Joe Public how nice these cats are.)
Elsewhere, where its plain that they’ve did their “own” thing (ie – I can’t think of someone to compare them against) they still come off dope. ‘Lights Off’ sees some funk-rock influences come into play, with a spine-shattering set of snares dropped over a squelchy bassline, as Stro, Mr J, and Res drop knowledge on how peeps can look fly in the public eye, but in private their lives are foul. Breaking up each verse is that rock-track-headbangin’ thing, and a flurry of quickfire scratches from DJ Spryte. ‘Just Over Broke’ has the trio kicking verbals over a track with a more live-instrumentation feel, and a mellow bass-low, treble-high hook, while ‘How Do I Describe’ is all about horns, horns, horns… and a little organ. Special mention must also be made of first single ‘All That It Takes’ which does some amazing things with some more of those damn horns, and a head-nodding jazz piano.
Its hard to find a negative side to anything on this album – what is evident throughout is that not only these cats GOOD at what they do, but they’re also obviously having FUN whilst doing it. And as we seem to be living in times where Hiphop is scared to have a smile on its grill, this approach is refreshing and stimulating. Its a solid album throughout, outstanding in places, and certainly one that indicates that these guys may have a place reserved in your collection. Go fill the space now.