Artist: Mars Ill
Album: Raw Material
Label: Uprok Records
Rating: 9 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
Mars Ill is a crew coming out of Atlanta, GA. Comprising two members, producer Dust, and emcee Soul Heir The Manchild, they are quickly establishing a name for themselves on the underground circuit. “Raw Material” is their first offering – lets see what the fuss is all about huh?
The album opens with a cut simply called ‘Mars Ill’. Its a pretty cool way to start the album – a throbbing bassline and a simple kick-kick-snare drum beat blast as various underground luminaries from the Quannum fold, LA Symphony, Soul Seekers etc contribute phone drops (in a similar vein to Mary J. Blige’s ‘Leave A Message’.) Between the drops, Soul Heir drops some crazy lines over a catchy trumpet chorus for today’s heads who are “over-entertained and underchallenged.” If this is the standard of the rest of the album – “Step to my cypha, get removed like a tumour, Crash in a sea of inexperience like JFK Junior,” then I’m gonna be happy…
The next few cuts keep up the high standard. ‘Sphere Of Hip-Hop Part 2’ features one of the coldest, darkest beats I’ve heard this year, and is an updated ‘I Used To Love H.E.R.’ of sorts. Pure dope. ‘Black Market’ in contrast, is minimal in beats, bass etc. This is one for the heads to focus strictly on the emceeing from Soul Heir and guest Playdough. ‘Love’s Not’ features a guitar bassline very similar to LOTUG’s ‘Chief Rocka’, and features Rahlo. A very introspective track – “I know what love is, and it just don’t stop, But I explain it much better when I say what love’s not.” One to slit your wrists to. 😉
‘Monotone’ hit number 2 on the MP3.com charts last year – its not hard to see why. This is one of those songs where when you hear ABOUT it – it sounds wack. When you actually hear it however its a totally different story. Basically over a simple, broody beat, Soul Heir kicks his entire rhyme without changing the pitch or tone of his voice – monotone, get it? I really liked this.
The hot streak had to end however. ‘Unsound’ brings it to an end, simply because of its similarity to Company Flow. Heads may already know how I feel about Co Flow – therefore a lot of other people will probably feel this cut a lot, but the “El P-ism” of this cut just makes me skip it.
Thankfully things pick up again, as the uptempo cuts ‘Compound Fractures’, and ‘Rap Fans’ improve the audio landscape again. ‘Sounds Of Music’ continues the climb away from El P-dom with its hard beats and Exorcist-styled piano loop, and ‘Try Again’ with its Premier “Daily Operation” era-styled production is incredible.
The last few cuts off the album make sure that the whole thing ends strongly. ‘Touch And Go’ features Tunnel Rat Sev Statik and is another dark broody beat. ‘Sphere Of Hiphop’ gets a re-run in its original form, whilst ‘Fade To Black’ features Sintax and is another gem. ‘The Abolition Of Manchild’ is a dope closer, portraying perfectly how the 2 members mesh perfectly with each other.
Hopefully this aint gonna get slept on – this is easily one of the best releases this year. Lets hope we see a lot more of this pair, cos if they continue on as they’ve started here, then only good things can come out of it.