Back To Reviews Archive The Hip-Hop Headrush

Artist: Various
Album: Spectrum
Label: Quannam Projects
Production: Lyrics Born, Chief Xcel, DJ Shadow, Soul Saints, El-Producto, Dan the Automator
Guests: Jurassic 5, Divine Styler, El-P, Souls of Mischief, Blackalicious, others
Stats: 1999, 15 tracks, 57 min
Reviewed by: Datsun

OK, before I tell you about this album, let me tell you the story. Soleside was a record company from the Bay-area that was established in the early 90's by a group of guys with similar interests in the development of Hip-Hop. They were putting out 12 inches and EP's at about the same time MC hammer was 'hurting em'. To mark their re-entry into the game, the label has released a bunch of tracks by their artists and loose affiliates. Most of the songs are collaborations, with the Quannum collective encompassing DJ Shadow; Quannum MC's: Lateef, Lyrics Born, & Gift Of Gab; Blackalicious: Gift Of Gab & Chief Xcel; Latyrx: Lateef & Lyrics Born; Maroons: Lateef & Chief Xcel.

'Mac B dog. M-A-C to the B-D-O-G'. The CD is presented as a radio show ("The late night hype"), Mac B dog is our host, he pops up after every few tracks, does an interview with Blackalicious but mostly he drops bay area rhetoric and Hip-Hop slang.

First up 'Concentration' featuring The Quannum MC's and Jurassic 5. Each rapper only gets one verse and they make sure it's tight. The beat is great, slow enough to hang the lyrics on with a predominate double bass mixed in. It's a great track to start the album off with because it creates a distinctly Hip-Hop vibe using live instrumental sounds.

On 'Golden Rule', Erin Anova' joins The Maroons (Lateef & Chief excel). It's not a straight-up Hip-Hop track, it's more of a R&B number minus the cheese. The next track 'People like me' is a solo by a beautifully versed soul diva Joyo Velarde, and in my opinion it's better than anything I've heard from the likes of Erykah Badu or Lauren Hill in ages. Its not only Joyo's sweet voice that carries this track, the drums are well driven, covered in piano and guitar samples.

'I changed my mind, I changed my mind I changed my mind' is the chorus from Lyrics Born and The Poets of Rhythm for the song of the same name. This is a stand out track as it has an unmistakable rock feel. The drumming sounds like it's lifted from a Violent Femmes record. It's a headbanger, an angry break-up song with mosh pit potential. 'It started getting cozy girl, let you control the reigns but despite what I knew to be true I hoped that things would change'. You'll be singing the chorus too!

When Quannum teams up with Souls of Mischief for 'The extravaganza', we are served some fairly hardcore Hip-Hop. This is my favorite track on the album, the relevantly simple beats create an eerie sci-fi mood, on which the MC's, each with their own distinctive rhyme style, come off shining.

The album picks from the old school, loots the new school and educates fools. It's unconservative Hip-Hop. For the most part it pushes boundaries of what the Hip-Hop genre is thought to encompass. There are tracks that are experimental and don't work, but for the most part the album is refreshing and welcome. It's a compilation that provides smart, innovative beats and good performances from a variety of artists. [7.5/10]

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