|Artist:||Spex aka Spextatah|
|Production:||Iko, Spex, Veez|
|Guests:||R1 (Raul), DJ Spice, Teb'za, Shaheen, Fusi|
|Stats:||1999; 8 Tracks at 38mins:00secs|
|Reviewed by:||Eitan Prince|
Writing this review is almost embarrassing for me. Firstly, I should have reviewed this EP almost five months ago when it was released, and secondly, I've just been sleeping on Spex's skills all this time. This 8 song, half-album is an example of hip-hop as I like it. Spextatah comes with some of Mswawa's hottest lyrics, and with vocal assistance from sidekick Raul, he graces the album's bouncy production with clever, thoughtful and energetic rhymes.
"Punchline Festival" hits things off as Spex flexes punchlines 'Talib Kweli-style', scattering similes over a the Iko produced beat. The stab-like keyboard chords allow Spex to ride the rhythm 'stop-start', and drop gems like: "I mess up your day like that time of the month/It's not that I'm too much it's just you're not enough". While "Punchline" is the lyrical highlight, "Hizo" is Spex's Hip-Hop anthem which pays homage to local SA talent, Mswawa hip-hop and his 'hood, Braamfontein. Two other remixes of the track make an appearance, and while the v2 version boasts a dope bassline, the Iko remix just sounds like a bland remaking, intended to appease wack, 'hip-hop-rejecting' top 40 radio formats, with its contrived mellowness.
Some of this effort's dopest moments however, are on the remaining three tracks, "M.O.T.H.", "RhymzIwrote", and "Gunning to Getchu". "M.O.T.H." - Matters of the Heart - sees Spex addressing his plights with the opposite sex in an admirably honest manner. Musically, "Matters" is as pleasant as dessert after a good meal, with the sultry, soulful female vocals of Fusi laced over tight drums and light keys - the ultimate summer jam. "RhymzIwrote" is Spex's ode to rhyming, where he caresses the microphone, evoking vivid images over Iko's A Tribe Called Quest-influenced production. "Gunning to Getchu" lands the knockout punch with easily the most experimental beat-making on the album. Spex flexes his lyrics a little harder on this track with Jo'burg street-tales, almost akin to those of Queenbridge's Mobb Deep.
The overwhelming sensation after repeated listens, is the fresh, enthusiasm that Spex exudes throughout the seven lyrical tracks. There are some obvious American influences, particularly in the production, but there is enough local authenticity in Spex's rhymes to compensate for this. If I was to be picky, you could criticise his flow, which isn't always H2O. And while the lyrics are top notch and on-point most of the time, his slightly choppy execution won't appeal to everyone (but then again not every MC is Rakim). [7/10]