Artist: Time Machine
Album: Slow Your Roll
Label: Glow In The Dark Records
Rating: 8.5 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
Time Machine. The name itself promotes the ability to go back to the past, or fast forward to the future, more than likely using some form of highly advanced technology. With “Slow Your Roll”, the trio of Jaysonic, Comel, and DJ Mekalek have compiled a longplayer that both shoots you back to the past through the old school vibe their output gives off (humourous, non-violent rhymes, traditional boom-bap beats, and everyone shouting on the hooks), while keeping things futuristic through their delivery (no cat-mat-hat-flat shit here), and all this using only the “old fashioned” turntable-and-mic technology. Originally from Providence, Rhode Island by way of DC, the group have already created a nice little buzz after dropping a couple of twelves, and heads in the know have been anticipating this album for the last little while.
As already mentioned, these cats tip their hat to the true traditions of Hiphop and its innovators, with clear evidence of influences from Cold Crush, A Tribe Called Quest, Pete Rock, and The Pharcyde all over the record. Alongside this, there’s a definite backpacker-ish theme evident here too – thankfully its not of the El-P variety, more like Ugly Duckling but with stronger rhymes and better beats.
The opening cut ‘Time’s Fly’ serves as a nice little introduction to the crew and their skills. Sounding like something Roy Ayers would knock out if he was trying to go for the Hiphop buck, the Martian Gang’s chime-heavy production, and live snares really do the business. As this cut fades out, the familiar ‘A Million And One Things To Do’ begins, where Time Machine do a nice Jurassic 5 impression, BETTER than Jurassic 5. The other cuts from the 12’s are here too – ‘Reststop Sweetheart’, ‘Who Needs A Mic?’, and ‘Personal Ads’ all still impress as you make your way through the album.
But the new material definitely stands up alongside the previously heard cuts and should NOT be ignored. ‘Spelling Bee’ is a fantastic idea – Jay and Comel break down certain words-within-words as Special K from the Awesome 2 urges them on. There’s so many humourous flips in here that its hard to single out just a few and feel like you’re doing justice to the overall track, but let me try:
“You can’t spell obituary without BITCH, cos ain’t it a bitch how life so suddenly switch?”
“You can’t Escalade without LAID, you’re more likely to get ass if you floss and you’re paid”
“You can’t spell responsibility without BILL, before you use that credit card make sure you got enough scrill”
‘Mind In A Spin’ slows things down a little bit, and darkens the overall vibe a little for a second with its mesh of reggae and industrial-sounding beats and rhythms, as the two Time Machine emcees share mic time with Boston’s finest Ed O G; ‘Night Lights’ is built around one of the warmest sax samples I’ve heard in a while, and ‘Water In Your Cereal’ is some buttery instrumental goodness. And you know what? These aren’t even the REALLY good tracks!
Take ‘A Cold Day In Hell’ for example – Mekalek’s production here is superb, building the track around a short soul sample, and toning the drums down just a little so that they don’t crowd the sample out of the mix. The subject matter is equally thought provoking – here Jaysonic and Comel break down a day in the life of a homeless, down-on-his-luck drifter, and his daily struggles to survive.
Edan pops up on the mic and the boards for ‘Asshole’ and doesn’t disappoint on either score, laying the smackdown on the boards with a scratched up piece of classical music laid over some bass heavy boom-bap, as he, Comel and Jay do their thing on the mic. The only disappointment here is the censorship of the hook, which definitely takes away a little from the beauty of the phrase, “cos you played yaself just like an asshole’.
The last three cuts on the album, are all built around catchy sampled soul hooks… not really in Kanye West style though as they aren’t speeded up to Alvin & The Chipmunks levels. ‘Especially4U’, ‘Thinking About You’, and ‘The Way Things Are’ all shine brightly, with the latter two cuts especially standing out – ‘Thinking About You’ for its Tribe Called Quest-esque beat, and ‘The Way Things Are’ for its gorgeous hook.
And as I’ve already stated, those who haven’t got the already released 12’s are still covered by the inclusion of most of the single cuts on here. Stoerok’s production on ‘A Million And One Things To Do’ and ‘Reststop Sweetheart’ is worthy of another mention, due to its on point fusion of jazz percussion, thumping kicks, and piano and horn breaks. The latter’s subject matter (the crew’s fleeting romances between highway reststops) is humourously self-mocking and sits perfectly over the beat – like a KMD ‘Peachfuzz’ for the 2000’s. ‘Who Needs A Mic?” is still on my mixtape playlist to this day, because of the horn sample and the cut up Slick Rick sample – again Stoerok was on the boards, and again its another cut worth peeping. ‘Personal Ads’ rounds off the collection of single tracks on the album (What? No ‘Block Troopin’?), and this one features Mekalek on the boards and the cut, as the ‘Sonic and Comel take us through the personal dating ads in their search for the perfect women.
At the end of it all, the question is “Is Time Machine worthy of YOUR time?” The answer has to be a resounding yes. Don’t get it twisted – this may well be one of the strongest album releases of this year. There’s really little wrong with this at all – the beats and the rhymes are on point, and to top it off, the whole thing is delivered in such a self-depreciating, tongue in cheek manner, that its hard not to crack a smile while your head is nodded. This MUST be added to your ‘must buy’ list immediately.