Album: Evolution Theory
Label: Q It Up Records
Rating: 4 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
Whip it good!
Devo, legendary 80’s purveyors of disco pop, are back again with “The Evolution Theory” :
Ok then. Hailing from Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada, hometown of the world famous Ruckus Radio Show (snicker), featuring altrap.com’s own MF, “The Evolution Theory” is Divo’s first official foray into the game, following up on his street-only debut release “Sparks of Friction” that MF was kind enough to furnish for me.
“Sparks of Friction” showed an MC that while more than a little bit rough with the flow, exhibited solid lyrical mechanics, and a knack at letting his emotions come through nicely on the mic, over grimy sounding beats for the most part.
So what animal is “The Evolution Theory”?
Unfortunately, some sort of hybrid mutant.
Somewhere after the release of “Sparks of Friction” and before the release of “The Evolution Theory”, it would appear that Divo lost his focus. Instead of building on the solid foundation of “Sparks of Friction”, “The Evolution Theory” panders to the lowest common denominator, utilizing every hip hop clichÃ© in the book- from sappy R&B hooks, to trendy keyboard inspired beats, to overtly commercial machinations amidst more traditional underground attempts.
Coming in at 23 tracks deep, 3 of which are interludes, and 2 of which are tracks with excuses of ‘not being able to attain sample clearance’, “The Evolution Theory” boasts an incredible 13 tracks featuring either guest MC’s or R&B singers. It’s basically the antithesis of what “Illmatic” was, where Nas showcased himself. The deluge of guest appearances not only dilutes the impact of Divo on the LP, in some cases it overshadows him greatly, mostly when he gets paired up with superior MC’s, with ‘What The Fuck Y’All’ (Sharky), ‘Don’t Believe’ (Dan-e-o) and ‘Rize Up’ (Titus) being the biggest offenders. Continuing on the guest vibe, the moments on the LP where R&B singers are utilized only succeed in making one wish for the real deal (ie. Ashanti/Ja Rule collabo’s). Now think about that for a minute- the R&B pairing on “The Evolution Theory” make you want to hear Ja Rule. That’s a condemnation if there ever was one.
Reading the above, you’d think Divo absolutely flops on “The Evolution Theory”. In fact, he does a more than adequate job. He has an infectious energy to his flow, and above average lyrical style. He does falter when trying to get too complex in his lyrics (‘Hot Shit’, ‘The Downfall’), but for the most part, he gets the point across effectively, especially on the more personal ‘Feel The Rain’, the only R&B influenced track on the entire LP that does its job correctly.
Other than a few more personal tracks however, the subject matter that Divo delves in leaves a lot to be desired as well – money, cash, hoes. Remember that Jay-Z song? It basically sums up “The Evolution Theory”.
The major problem with the album however lies with the beats. Whether they sound like Swizz Beats knock-offs (‘No Time’), cheap imitations of ‘Addictive’ (‘In The Panties’), or like a 4 bar loop repeated for 4 minutes (on the otherwise excellent ‘Reservoir Dawgs’), they will in the end bore you to tears. Produced exclusively by Dubble J, they are the single biggest reason for the mediocrity of the LP.
Basically, it boils down to “The Evolution Theory” being far too many things for far too many people. Divo would be better served sticking to more personal topics, as that seems to be his forte, and stripping down his production values to more sparse arrangements. Until then, “The Evolution Theory” can almost be deemed “Darwin’s Guide To Extinction”.