Artist: Nowledge Of Self
Album: We’re Here Now
Rating: 6 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
Nowledge Of Self is a Tampa based 3 man crew, whose EP I reviewed last month. At the time I was impressed – the only real problem I had with the joint was the fact that it only lasted for five tracks. Well now I have the full album in my possession, so lets see if the new additions compliment what has gone before.
(Note: As the five tracks featured on the EP have already been covered at length in a separate review, I won’t dwell on them too much here. If you need to peep the review of the EP then click here.)
The album opens up with the title track, which features a female wittering in French over a laidback guitar groove. Not a great way to open the album – maybe its just me, but I feel that the title track should be one of the strongest tracks on your album. This is just an interlude at best, and a waste of a pretty nice beat at worst.
I gotta admit that the next couple of tracks, ‘We Got It’ and ‘Vibes’ don’t really do much for me either. Again both have a fairly laidback vibe, and throw up those comparisons with the Roots that I mentioned in the EP review, but ultimately both are average. The latter cut also features some “mic-ramblin'” between verses, which detract from some of the more positive aspects of the track.
Sandwiched between these two cuts is the familiar sound of ‘New Era’ which is a perfect example of NOS at the top of their game. Luckily, ‘Relaxation’ also continues to pick things up – seemingly influenced by the Roots’ ‘Distortion To Static’ right down to the echos on the chorus, this features a jazzy little break and a heavy staccatto drum pattern.
As the album continues, it becomes clear that the actual sequence of tracks will conspire against heads to spoil their overall enjoyment of this joint – after a poor start, things seem to pick up with the joints I’ve just mentioned, but a spoken word interlude from Black R.O.S.E. pulls things back down, before ‘Summer Time’ one of the hottest joints on here pumps things up again. Unfortunately the horrible, and quite pointless, ‘Voices In My Head’ tips things in a negative direction again.
The next couple of joints prove the point – ‘Cruising’ throws up images of Tribe’s “Midnight Maurauders”, and features hypnotic vocals from Myster’e, supporting some top notch vocals from the emcees. This is dope. ‘Lines Of My Face’ however is the complete opposite – despite the brave efforts of Sha’een to stamp his authority on the track, he’s let down by a somewhat bland beat, which rarely changes throughout. I’m also puzzled by the fact that he only rhymes for a minute and half, and yet the track lasts for five minutes – why do we need to hear an instrumental for so long?
The last quarter of the album is the strongest part of the whole thing. Things begin with the head nodding uptempo beats of ‘What’, and continue with the broody Wu-Tang-sample laced ‘Dreamin’, and the emcee cypha feel of ‘In And Out’. This latter cut does actually sound like a genuine freestyle session – hats off to the emcees if it is – they stay onbeat and tight throughout and the beat is hot, featuring an ascending / descending bassline, and a hard snare. ‘Dirty South’ is another of the EP cuts and features a superb performance from Black R.O.S.E. – a performance he repeats on the dope ‘Chill Factor’ where he namechecks Tribe as obvious influences on the style of the group. This cut is another contender for best track on the album – another uptempo banger, with a devastatingly simple but effective chorus, which features every emcee coming off at their hungriest. Things round off with the acoustic flavour of ‘Science Island’ – a summery instrumental cut that sounds cool, but goes on a little too long.
I touched earlier on the horrible sequencing of the tracks – it really divides the album into a bad half and a good half. The second part of the album is undoubtedly stronger, and I feel that if some of these stronger cuts had been dropped on the first part of this joint, it would be easier to overlook the weaker cuts. As it is though, the presence of so much of the weak material on the first part of the album, only serves to reinforce and widen the gap between good and bad. Despite this battle between “good and evil”, the last quarter of the album alone makes it one that’s still worth picking up if you come across it.