Verbals by A to the L
Fallacy & Fusion – The Ground Breaker (Wordplay)
Wow, a nine o’clock news sample. A novel way to start off a bouncy little track from Fallacy and his you-recognise-him-from-MTV-Base partner. Its built around a sharp brass sample, and one of those staccatto type beats that Timbaland and Busta Rhymes have pioneered. It’s a real grower – I started off not feeling it at all, and now I’ve played it four times in a row. The extremely laidback ‘Be Bad, Feel Good’ accompanies a few shitty garage mixes of the title track, and is a lovely little surprise.
RATING: 7 / 10

Fat Joe – What’s Luv? (Atlantic)
Yes yes yes… I KNOW its been out for ages in the States, but Large Joseph’s certified club banger is only now getting it’s UK release. You must have heard this by now – bubbly basslines and Murder Inc’s Ashanti all over the hook… its been doing damage in the clubs for months. More interesting to me is the inclusion of the non-album track ‘Hustlin”. Its a dark number featuring Fat Joe showing a style I haven’t really heard from him since his second “J.O.E.” album in 1995. A gritty, dense sound which features Armageddon on the helpout, it the Yin to the title track’s Yang.
RATING: 6.5 / 10

Angie Martinez – If I Could Go (Elektra)
Regular readers of this site’s reviews, may remember that I was pleasantly surprised by Angie’s debut album – it was much stronger than I anticipated. This cut is the lead single from her follow up effort “Animal House”, and although being slightly more commercial than I’m used to, is still a better than average way to spend 4 minutes. Rick Rock’s polished production owes a more than a little to the Neptunes style on the boards. Angie is competent again on the mic, trading verses with Sacario as Lil Mo comes through on the rent-a-hook tip. Definite potential in the clubs and a nice taster for the album.
RATING: 7 / 10

Sacario – Live Big Remix (Elektra)
Angie returns the favour here for Sacario, appearing with Fat Joe on an incredibly addicitive slice of latin-tinged bouncy funk. Sacario shows an incredible similarity to Jigga both in voice and flow – not necessarily a bad thing. The ascending/descending synth running through the track is just sick, giving the track a much sharper anthemetic edge – I can see a lot of DJs using this instrumental on blends tapes. In terms of rhymes, its standard bragging and boasting fare, but the total package of beats and rhymes shows enough promise to merit checking out Sacario on future efforts.
RATING: 7 / 10

Hustlechild – I’m Cool (Elektra)
OK this is straight up R’n’B and so shouldn’t strictly appear here on a HIPHOP reviews page. But since I’m the editor I get the final call, so fuck y’all. There’s a good reason to check out Hustlechild anyway – a man who can soulfully sing the word “fuck” has to get some some props. Overall – think Musiq Soulchild with a set of balls, and you won’t be far off the mark – a nice little boom-boom-bip beat combination, meshes well with Hustlechild’s rootsy vocals, and the hook is pretty nice. I happen to like this a lot, and I think you will too.
RATING: 7.5 10

Knoc-turnal – Muzick (Elektra)
Dre’s prodigy follows up his debut ‘Knoc’ single with this following-in-the-footsteps-of-Funkadelic rouser. Its a hybrid west coast version of Common’s ‘I Used To Love Her’, with Knoc telling us how he’d do anything for his baby, Musick, and comes off like the musical result of throwing NWA, Funkadelic, Rick James, and Cameo into a blender. Little known producer Kayne West has done a sterling job on the boards, and Knoc doesn’t disappoint – spitting confidently and appearing a little more “on edge” than the laidback figure we’ve come to recognise. Pretty damn good.
RATING: 7 / 10

Imperial Element – Gotta Live / Ominous (I Exist Records)
Comprising of emcees T.I.M.E. and Balance, Imperial Element’s debut is getting major play through several record pools stateside, and it not hard to see why. ‘Gotta Live’ is an uptempo thumper, featuring a killer piano sample running all over the track, and some surprisingly militant rhymes. ‘Ominous’ is the name of the flipside track, and is the FIRST word you would use to describe this joint – a sloooooowwww paced jam with a reversed drum pattern at its core, and various almost-electro effects popping in and out of the mix. The group are scheduled to appear on an upcoming compilation called ‘Piece Of The Action’ which will also feature MF Grimm, Yaggfu, and Prophetix, and are finishing work on their debut album. On this evidence – its gonna be worth picking up.
RATING: 8.5 / 10

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