REVIEW: State 2 State Volume 1

State 2 State Volume 1

Artist: Various

Album: State 2 State Volume 1

Label: Mic Fiend

Rating: 6 / 10

Reviewer: Gavin-X

Promising to showcase the best that the independent internet scene has to offer, “State 2 State Volume 1” is the first release on indie label Mic Fiend Records. Mic Fiend CEO, West coast emcee, and generally hard-working business woman Jymini came up with the idea, and spent well over 6 months compiling the final list. Let’s see if her hard work was worth the effort…

After a short intro, the album kicks off with a cut from Jymini herself. ‘Partyin’ Wit Me’ is a bouncy little club number featuring a repetitively addictive chorus and a extremely hard bass kick. As an emcee, Jymini comes off here as a more advanced version on Da Brat, flowing well over the beat, but ultimately, with this being a party cut, saying little of any substance. A nice little uptempo way to open up the album however.

The next few cuts are kinda hit and miss. ‘Uh Oh’ by Prop features a sparse bass heavy beat, very west coast in flavour, which betrays the artists’ DC roots. Its trying hard to be some kind of an anthem, with the simple sing-along chorus, but doesn’t really have that extra something to make it REALLY stand out. ‘On My Own’ by Payback Time is straight up R’n’B – very generic, not bad, but not amazing either. ‘How Ya Like It’ by Oregon native Starchile picks the mood up a little with a crisply produced cut, before Murder One & Logick’s ‘They Ain’t Ready’ brings things back down a little with a bland, murder rap by numbers type joint.

Thankfully, Shawn Lov raises the bar unbelievably high with his comedic ‘I’m Pathetic’. Coming off as a tongue in cheek mix of Eminem, Punch and Words, and Pharoahe Monch, Shawn’s cut is EASILY one of the best tracks I’ve heard this year. Featuring a slow lolloping beat with a nice jazzy horn sample sliding in and out, it’s hard, real hard to pick out standout lines from this – they’re all dope. But check this little sequence…

“He’s one grape short of a fruit salad, one sandwich short of a picnic
One No Limit soldier short of some wack shit
I ain’t got no rhythm, no soul, no breath control
What I need to do is grab a guitar and start playing some rock n roll
Cos I ain’t nothing but a wack dressed, crash test dummy
I only lost my virginity cos this bitch took it from me.”

Its always gonna be hard to follow this, so when the next couple of cuts are generic reggae and r’n’b by numbers, its no real surprise. ‘The Outlaw’ by Prince Dominque, is a slow stroll thru Kingston, Jamaica’s worst sterotypes, while Authentik Soul’s ‘Being In Love’ is the usual “I love being in love” joint, with the vocals mixed a little too flatly. The next cut, ‘Reality’ by Jedi, doesn’t improve things either – its a dull ramble through “how emcees think underground should sound” territory.

Thankfully, the second half of the album is much much stronger. Cuts like the wicked ‘Runnin’ A Train’ by Lil DVS, ‘Timez Up’ by Mista MC, and ‘Point Of No Return’ by Lyrical all show a deep west coast influence with incredibly funky beats. The latter cut also features a superb chorus, which when laid over the top of the “live instruments” feel of the beats, makes this another of the strongest tracks on here.

Elsewhere, despite being laced with one of DJ Pooh’s weaker beats, DJ $crilla still comes of confidently with ‘Mass Destruction’, Lockdown’s ‘Can’t Maintain’ and Deesha’s ‘Dried My Eyes’ set the example to the other artists on here of how an R’n’B cut SHOULD be done, and Khaklit Abyss gets a mixtape-styled drop at the start of ‘Atallhourzofdanite’ from Phife before ripping the minimalist beat with some incredible lines.

Overall, this ain’t bad – the second part of the album more than makes up for the amount of weaker tracks on the first half, and goes a long way towards pulling this back towards being “value for money”. An admirable first effort, and hopefully not the last we’ll see of Mic Fiend.

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