Sunday, 28 June 2020

Xzibit "Man VS Machine" (2002)

Following up on the mixed bag that was Restless, Xzibit brings a surprising amount of coherence to his forth album. Man VS Machine has a similar tone and entourage with Dr. Dre, Snoop and Eminem returning among others, as well as new collaborates DJ Premier and M.O.P. Kicking off with a typical self affirming braggadocio track, the substance then starts with Release Date, a tale of being released from jail and building a mentality for the transition. Its a moment where his rhymes grab your attention and handle a narrative. It happens rather frequently on the albums journey.

Man VS Machine is not without its tarnish, some features feel routine, a few stale overproduced beats and a couple of trashy raunchy songs in the mix but this streak of substance in X's rhymes stand out. He is still firmly rough and tough on the mic, his delivery hard and concise with a firm flow, typical X but between his hard hitting lines, socially conscious leaning verses pack some weight, food for thought in the mix. Its far from profound but as the tracks play these moments frequently pop up.

Heart Of Man remixes Toto's Africa, which might sound like a recipe for disaster and although X is a little harsh for the mood, it somehow serves as a highlight on the record, a rather uplifting track with a solid message of taking life seriously and putting in hard work to who you are and your ambitions. He reflects on his journey and how others and fallen behind, the way of expressing his work ethic is refreshing. It stands out against the overall tone, a lot of spiffing clean virtual instrument beats with enough variety and experimentation to provide something for everyone.

My Name is a fantastic tune, Eminem lends his voice and production for another track that could slip into his own discography. Nate Dogg's voice in the chorus hook really pulls together the vibe of the era. The inclusion of Eddie Griffin on a skit, akin to one on 2001, once again really expands this sounds universe. I was so fond of in my youth, much fun to discover more of it. Going into this I wasn't expecting much giving the historical response but their is plenty here to dig. With a little trim removing some of the fluff tracks it would be one solid record!

Favorite Tracks: Release Date, Symphony In X Major, Heart Of Man, My Name, Missin U
Rating: 6/10

Friday, 26 June 2020

Stevie Wonder "Innervisions" (1973)

A name known the world over in music, but one I had never come acquainted with until now. Stevie was a veteran at this point, a Jazz musician from an era where records where pumped out yearly. Innervisions, his sixteenth, is often frequented by critics as a landmark album, making top lists and the like. Its a highly enjoyable record, loaded with melody and thoughtful compositions. Brilliant songwriting has appealing pop sensibilities between a depth of expansive instrumentation. Initially I was drawn to a subtle streak of Progressive Rock, Visions almost acting as an echo of King Crimson. The overlapping influences of Soul, Funk, Jazz and Rock at play created a point of comparison with some Jazz Fusion records I have enjoyed.

Another thread of influence unraveled. Stevie's voice had a remarkable resemblance to Micheal Jackson, the high pitch woos and cries an obvious characteristic of influence on the king of pop, as well as some of his higher ranged singing carrying a similar persona. His presence is subtlety remarkable. Perhaps it is the competition from the artful instrumentation that competes for attention. Golden Lady a fantastic example of powerful singing that isn't over pronounced or dialed up beyond necessity. His music is warm, inviting and the songs often grow in stature as one is drawn in.

As familiarity settled the themes of social struggle and black life in American became all too apparent. Living For The City tells tales of hard life and daily struggles. The seven minute march opens up with a scenic passage, voice actors and city sounds depict an encounter with corrupt cops. It had me pondering. What was the origin of such an concept incorporated into music? I first heard it on Straight Outta Compton and its become a common feature in Hip Hop musics. Maybe it has its roots here?

Stevie has it all on this record. His instrumentation is a vibrant tapestry of instruments in tandem, reveling in melody, chord arrangements arrive with pleasing simplicity yet offer a wealth of creativity as the Funk energy personifies the synths and instruments with a bold liveliness. It has me appreciating it more with each listen but I may be far from done with Innervisions. Some songs towards the back end don't appeal quite as much when approaching the ballad spectrum but there is a wealth of great music here I can't deny and its been a fantastic introduction to the legendary musician.

Favorite Tracks: Living For The City, Golden Lady, Higher Ground
Rating: 8/10

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Global Communication "76 14" (1994)

Plucking a recommended "ambient gem" from an old playlist, I found myself in a moment of awe as I thumbed over the release date. All the many similarities and artists I could reference flew out the window as this vastly predates the likes of Carbon Based Lifeforms. Now its praise seems all the more apparent given what little that is similar Ive heard before the year of 94. Global Communication are an English ambient duo who have built a timely, beautiful experience here, embarking on seventy six minutes and fourteen seconds of entrancing ambiguity and Downtempo meditations. Its songs are all equally named in length, a combination of two numbers to say little more of the music, other than how long each chapter will last.

This lack of additional substance lets the music take on its own form with no suggestion of what the artists intention might be. For me, an experience both cosmic and spiritual, meditative and temporal, even a little funky and jazzed out in its lively spaces. The music can be whatever you like! Its overall quality is a sonic experience, soft and suggestive with lapses into beat and groove as its lengthy building passages of suspense find release in steady percussive sways. They muster a warm gusto of pace an indulgence into deeply relaxed and chilled soundscapes.

 The record starts with its mighty astral synths playing folly to whats ahead. It opens a portal for a lengthy expedition guided by whirling synths and stitched to reality with its remarkable, tembre tick-tock of a clock, marking time passing by, It seems all to meaningful somehow. The songs then sway between experimental soundscapes and rhythmic rooted tracks that lay down easy tempos and build a world around it with various electronic synth sounds and murmurous bass lines.

 7 39 builds up an appetite with light Industrial vibes and a denser web of interchanging sounds. Its potent melodies overall vibe fondly remind me of Devin Townsend's Project EKO. Its a stark transition into 54, mysterious foreign voices exchange some shared language of communication as spacious beeps and whirls give of an astronomic vibe. It plays into the experience as the foundations of rhythm and melody seemed to be pulled back into ambiguity on a frequent basis.

As the closing tracks returns to the heavenly astral synths heard in the opening, they act like a wrapper for two particular strains of music held together in the middle. Ambiguous experiments in temporal texture and Downtempo chill out tracks converting the electronic music scene of the 90s into ambient form. All of it is fantastic and the way in which it flows just makes for an effortless listen. I can see why its held in such high regard. Hearing what it must of influenced beyond its release has certainly taken the edge off a little but it makes it no less fantastic.

Rating: 8/10

Friday, 19 June 2020

Coprofago "Unorthodox Creative Criteria" (2005)

The crudely named Coprofago are a Chilean band likened to Meshuggah, once discovered at a time before the Djent scene had blossomed and an inch for the Swede's new sound was present. With roots in the Technical Death Metal scene, an influence of meaty seven string guitars hammering out blunt, looping polymetered riffs make themselves known from the kick off. With alien guitar leads akin to Fredrick Thordendal and harsh, bleak screams similar to Jens Kidman its easy to see the influence and how fans could be comparative between the two bands.

As the album plays, its other influences start to reveal themselves. The keyboards illuminate another angle, Jazz Fusion and Progressive Rock styling bring an exploratory nature to the music, it provides relief to the brutal onslaught of chugging mechanical riffs and broadens the scope of sound to quite the musical adventure. Tracks like Isolated Through Multiplicity go off on thees tangents of colorful expression, outbursts led by the synths as exchanges in musical electricity between guitar and keyboards play in contrast to the metallic edge and grinding drums.

The synth tones are somewhat cheap and cheesy when given focus to their aesthetic. Yet the performance and composition fits so snugly into whats unfolding that its barely noticeable. The whole thing is a classy affair from talented musicians rattling of their skills into Jazzy constructs of intensity and indulgence as the music often sways between an aggressive temperament and something far more exploratory and emotional, in a mysterious sense as they often pluck at more existential strings.

One could almost separate these two strands that tend to work in parallel rather than find common ground. The swing between is often blunt and swift yet with that it finds a charm perhaps learned through familiarity as this record is one I've frequented over the fifteen years since its release. Its always been a pleasure and listening to it again, breaking down the components I find myself really appreciating this niche era of influence when Meshuggah's legacy first started to spread.

Rating: 8/10

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Xzibit "Restless" (2000)

Xzibit's third record, Restless, unites the West Coast rapper with legendary producer Dr. Dre who brings his Aftermath entourage. Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Mel-Man & Nate Dogg all participate in the product. Their worlds collide, what seemed an inevitability giving the influential tone of 40 Dayz & 40 Nightz. This record was like unearthing a lost memory, the beats, hooks and features had the temperament of an era I knew fondly growing up with Em and Dre dominating MTV day in and out. His hit single X is the one song I remember from its airplay on the music channel.

After many spins, my take away is mostly disappointment. I'm sure I'd love it if I heard it at the time but the music mostly feels second hand to the style of production. The tone and temperament, flows and hooks echo of 2001 and his aforementioned guests dominate attention with their styles of the era. Don't Approach Me with Eminem is a fantastic track but as the two exchange verses and Em sings the chorus its practically a Marshall Mathers b-side as the songs weight is clearly on one of their shoulders.

 A couple tracks sour with weak hooks or trashy lyrics. Snoop on D.N.A is just ridiculous, made me reflect on how mean and vicious his attitude was at this point in his career. Its not all bad. X brings on other legends like Erick Sermon and KRS-One who put together two fantastic tracks, the loose yet sharp, goofy beat Alkaholik and Kenny Parker Show an old school banger bringing back the classic echos on rhymes.

What about X himself? I felt like he had less to say overall. The immediacy and thirst lacking a little which seems to be a common thread in Hip Hop once success is reached. His rhymes are solid and flow aggressive and rugged but a lot of the lyrical topics were mainly self affirming and defensive of his ability on the mic. Its the most common theme but unless bringing the sharpest arrangement of words its wont stick.

One track, Sorry I'm Away So Much, stands out as a thoughtful song about being a father from his the perspective of X's lifestyle but its a lone track of reflection among a lot of typical hard headed rhyming. Restless is a curious record, a project with a lot of hands on deck, bringing many sounds together that tend to cloud its focus where quality is sparsely found between mediocrity.

Favorite Tracks: Alkaholik, Kenny Parker Show, Double Time, Don't Approach Me, Rimz & Tirez, Get Your Walk On
Rating: 5/10

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Trivium "What The Dead Men Say" (2020)

Having spent over a month with this record my dissatisfaction perhaps stems from a case of fulfilled curiosity with their previous effort, The Sin And The Sentence, being a proper introduction to the bands identity. What The Dead Men Say feels like a total rehash of the same summery anthemic festival Metal spun with the same craft, intensity and almost cheesy lyrics poised with a tone of might, honor and glory. Matt Heafy's wording and delivery bares it formula, making for a rather predictable string of songs that summit the same emotional struggles over and over again.

To give the record some merit, its a very credible romp of melodic tinged aggressive metal. Soaring its way through turmoil with streaks of grooving riffs neatly composed, the songs carry a constant sense of epic struggle and overcoming odds as the temperament tends to follow the lyrical narrative. The longer tracks carry some variety with breaks from the normative structures but despite regular creative shake ups the whole thing feels like an repeating echo of what just came before it.

It leaves me with not much to say. Its opening track IX creates quite the anticipation with its darkly acoustic but once the metallic guitar kick in with an appropriately crisp, octane production the music swiftly fits the cast its molded for with all the verses, choruses and hooks feeling so normative. Even if this Is all I focus on with my writing, its an enjoyable record, a fun ride of proud fist pumping Metal precisely in the anthemic style Trivium have mastered over the years.

Rating: 6/10

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Meshugah "I" (2004)

Part of the excitement leading to Catch Thirtythree was the build up in the Nuclear Blast magazine, the Swedish bands lable. Before its arrival the band would release another one song project, an EP with a lone twenty one minute song known as I. Rougher around the edges and with its drum machine identifications showing, I serves as the bridge between sounds. This was the Nothing and Chaosphere era of the band manifesting into a meaty riff fest of pummeling brutality with shades of the masterclass to come, however this was an exercise in sheer intensity.

Giving it a listen again for some time I find myself enamored by its coarse abrasion and flabbergasted as to how my memory of its genius faded. Perhaps that grinding intro of Bleed like guitar chugging meant I'd skip it over? How could I forget such magic? As the song grows it flexes some alien melodic guitar lines in the background, swelling groove and aggression in a hateful pot. Then comes the real axe grind, meaty poly chugs allure us into an absolute maelstrom of deafening blast beat madness... and then that solo! My word is it a blisteringly fast, finger bleeding assault on the strings baron of any melodic sense, it just starts, full on, then ends... I love it!

The song falls into a lull of discordant acoustics and then its returning riffs echo much of a Meshuggah in years to come with riffs conceptually liking to its predecessor. Pummeling its way on with simplistic grooves and far simpler slabs of head banging groove, a stretched elasticity starts to build suspension, unleashing more measures of hypnotic swaying. Those Catch Thirtythree shimmering tremolo guitars make an arrival in the background and I'm fondly loving the journey through this old treasure.

Listening again, one can really hear the transition play out as a progressive journey through the song. More elements of whats to come persuade the song as its birth through incessant brutality gives way to an arsenal of carefully crafted riffs that are just simply a delight to endure. Turning this song on to churn out some thoughts I am stunned again as to how much brilliance this band posses in their conceptual approach to ideas. These "one song" concepts steered the band from structural norms and in it the freedom to move births so many fantastical ideas. Its a real treat!

Rating: 8/10

Monday, 15 June 2020

Meshuggah "Catch Thirtythree" (2005)

Ah Meshuggah... one of a rare few bands that pull me in like a magnet. Its been around eighteen years since I discovered the Swedish magicians, pioneers of Djent and masters of primordial rhythmic elasticity. Too this day a track popping up on shuffle will have me relenting into a binge, after another one today I felt very inspired to talk of their best work. Its release was in the prime of my musical infatuation, festivals and gigs galore with friends, it felt monumental, a new form to worship.

As an album it succeeds in executing a vision as a whole. Conceptually its one unrelenting forty seven minute song with a few sections of respite. Even its clunky track splitting can't separate a prevalent wholeness as the lengthy In Death Is Death feels like it could equally be split into ten shorter tracks. Catch Thirtythree is a continually unraveling of the bands finest hypnotic riff work to date.

Leaving the constraints of structured song writing behind, the band find a slender liquidity that strikes at the core of their rhythmic magic. An unending unraveling of elastic groove, swaying with bounce, twisting with cryptic intervals, the dancing never ends it seems. A key feature is the inclusion of tremolo picking guitars creating this layer of modal ambience that holds the dizzying jolts of mechanical fret board dexterity to a grounded anchor. Its a missing link barely if at all utilized again since this one.

Mind's Mirror marks a memorable moment as Jens's monochromatic bleak howls get flipped sideways. His spoken words morphed through melodic waves over the top of sparse collapsing guitar noise creates a beautiful and totally unexpected moment to builds up suspense for an entourage of the bands bounciest riffs. The pair of Death songs delve deep into the arsenal of progressive riffs, toying with all sorts of ploymeter arrangement and counter intuitive notation. Its nothing but pure gold.

The record's production is stellar. Crisp, bright and beaming with tone its a sound ingrained in my mind for all the binges I've taken on it. Fifteen years later it still lights a fire in my mind, persuading me fully to its tribal polyrhythmic dance. With so many great moments its hard to pick any favorites. Perhaps that empithizes why the album experience prevails this time around. Its best enjoyed whole and if you make it to Sum, then unleashed are beautiful sways of melody to peak the bands primal brilliance.

Rating: 10/10

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Old Corpse Road "On Ghastly Shores Lays The Wreckage Of Our Lore" (2020)

The allure of romanticized gothic tales and cryptic ethereal extremity was too much to resist. Always mystified by the early Cradle Of Filth sound, I wanted another slice of darkly dramatics from Old Corpse Road who live out that early 90s British Black and Gothic Extreme Metal sound so well. The group are at it again, birthing violent surges of esoteric wonder as barrages of dense sinister synths malign sombre guitar leads. The band craft a great sense of scale and weighty meaning as the music sails through its epic ocean bound tales with a yielding pace and stormy might. Wild shrieks and shrill howls often peak the plunges into the bleak as thunderous slabs of metallic force make a mark on the otherwise rather melodic expressions of these moody tales.

In comparison with what I remember of previous records, the band expand their sound into folksy territory with tones of pagan acoustics and choral signing. Where the album blooms it reminds me fondly of In The Woods, Macabre Omen and the almighty Emperor in one instant, to name a few. It shapes up the album well with more shades of Black Metal than I expected. It sways with a good sense of flow as its lengthy songs pass through plenty of phases, embellishing extremities and finding plenty of musical relief as openings of calm arrive, often eerie and unsettled in nature.

On Ghastly Shores Lays The Wreckage Of Our Lore has a quality I completely overlooked until the routine of writing promoted thoughts of production. This recording is sloppy in consistency, dense and harsh at times with a muddy sense of clarity. This actually plays right into its hands. In the age of octane clarity and precision performance it derives character from its looseness, capturing a sound more identifiable with the era of this styles inception. Its made me appreciate its rough edges so much more as it brings one closer to the tale they are telling. That and the delightful sixteen minute track have made this one a fantastic listen these last few weeks.

Favorite Tracks: Harbingers Of Death, The Ghosts Of The Ruinous Dunstanburgh Castle
Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Frank Klepacki & The Tiberian Sons "Frank Klepacki & The Tiberian Sons" (2020)

Alongside the remastered music of Command & Conquer, soundtrack composer Frank Klepacki has teamed up with VGM tribute band The Tiberian Sons to deliver twenty two performances of his iconic music as a Metal band. Its undoubtedly a treat in this exciting and nostalgic time for the game and its fans. Haven listened to it back to back over the last few days, I find myself reaching a more "objective" take on the music, going beyond my adoration and feverish enjoyment hearing these favorite songs of mine through a new lens.

Most, if not all, of the original music is stripped out. The synths hold onto the original tones in many a place but much of the nuance and detail is lost to the band performance. With crisp, high fidelity modernized production, the music has a spacious vacuum where the crystal clear punch of each drum strike, plucked bass line and rattle of distortion guitar tend not to cross paths where some much needed "mud" would give it density. Its a case of being a little to clean for its own good.

I say all this with a grain of salt, its an enjoyable project but I can't help but hear all the missing elements where layers of synths colliding now feel sparse as minimal synth carry things forward with some compensating guitar riffs laid underneath. It all ebbs and flows, some songs carry this burden more than others and leave a listener desiring the richness of the originals. Prepare For Battle being a great example where the song goes through utterly bare sections of just bass and drums alone.

When the band deviate from the purity of original songs, it rarely gives more. The Primus inspired slap bass licks, guitar shredding solos and drum fill barrages to send off songs don't sound particularly fresh or exciting, just that typical theatrical Rock thing to do. On the flip side these distortion guitars shine bright. The crisp and bold tone resonates well and brings a lot to compliment the original compositions.

The non metallic cover of Dusk Hour is a reminder of just how many games Frank wrote great music for. Some tracks from Red Alert 2 make it in with a pair of medley songs adding elements from further along in the franchise I was unfamiliar with. Overall its a huge treat to enjoy but for the most part I'll be continuing with the remastered songs as only a handful of songs here elevate the original music.

Rating: 6/10

Monday, 8 June 2020

Frank Klepacki "Command & Conquer Remastered Soundtrack" (2020)

The remastering of Westwood Studio's classic Command & Conquer games is such a great excuse to write about the fantastic soundtrack that accompanied it. Reflecting on the twenty five years since I played this MSDOS game as a kid shines a light how inadvertently it may have shaped my musical taste. The game's sole musician Frank Klepacki took the emerging Industrial Metal sound of the 90s and forged it into a beautifully atmospheric and mood altering layer of the experience that transcended the immersive world of role play strategy and control over militarized units. Some years after initially playing these games I yearned to hear the music again and tinkering with tools obtained from the internet I was able to to extract the audio from all the games and their expansion packs and burning them onto audio CDs. From then and till this day I routinely enjoy them, they are simply timeless!

This remastered collection reproduces everything with a far greater audio fidelity given there were media limitations in the 90s that led to compressed 22hrz audio. These remastered songs have more clarity and depth in sound, without much in the way of compromise. Textures and quieter instruments become more visible and perk the ears with more details to notice but nothing was ever holding these songs from getting their point across. Its a delight to have the songs updated for further listening pleasure but It also comes with extras, outtakes and few missing remixes from the Playstation's Red Alert Retaliation port which I never got my hands on... until now!

Frank's music is relatively diverse, although their are surges of distortion guitar driven tracks with rocking drum grooves, the songs between calve focused atmospheres fit for the high stakes of the game. Edge and suspense is often present, never wandering into darkness or paranoia. Its electronic instruments forge both the calmer songs and upheavals of energy with plenty of 90s electronica music influence on its percussion and a fair helping of that janky stitching of sounds ever present in 80s Industrial. With Red Alert the soundtrack definitely pivots more into the electronic realm with more aggressive synths leading the way in its punchier tracks however the Metal guitar makes its legendary mark with the anthemic Hell March. The marching of feet, the creeping baseline, exploding into a fiery storm of metallic guitar, wonderful!

I'll be giving this one a ten simply to signify how much this music as a whole means to me, that also includes Red Alert 2 and Tiberian Sun too! As for the remastering, I've listened with intent ears and It doesn't seem like anything much has been tinkered or altered for restoration. Some of the reverbs become very obvious with more cavernous depth but skipping back to the originals you can hear they were there all along! That early childhood "nostalgia" is strong, the bonds formed here have been endlessly fascinating to me and always manages to take me to a good place. I am forever thankful for Frank's wonderful music and its been such a delight to see the remaster project acknowledge the music too! Will hopefully find time to play the game a little too before long.

Rating: 10/10

Sunday, 7 June 2020

Queen "Innuendo" (1991)

After a patchy decade pumping out mediocrity around one or two killer songs on each album, Queen enter the 90s with a strong shift in tone to solidify a return to form that was unfortunately their last with Freddie, who's health was declining during Innuendo's creation. The group effectively roll back the years, getting past the simplified approaches to songwriting and creating more inspired pursuits of Progressive Rock that manifest wonderfully on its opening track. They sound like Queen of the 70s.

 Although other songs don't follow this dynamic the album tone lacks any of the cheese or Synthpop influence they steadily picked up over the last decade. Its a return to roots that remains a step forward with the Hard Rock edge playing out in a fun new environment. Brian May's enigmatic lead guitar style sounds less like contrasting bursts of energy interrupting a songs flow. Queen get the mood right here, over and over, his solo's making for wonderful peaks in the flow of musical indulgence.

After a string of tracks, All God's People, These Are The Days Of Our Lives and most guilty, Delilah, hits a snag with that cheesy song writing rearing its ugly head as the tone shifts into a more formulaic cast. The Hitman pulls things back on track with a roaring anthem of Heavy Metal might as its attitude laden riffs throw up a head banger of a track! It's lyrics may be a little goofy but it makes up for it that riff! May also shreds a slick, lengthy lead guitar solo as the song takes a lengthy bow out.

The albums strength is its tone and atmosphere. It feels together as one project with the soft, airy synths composed with a familiarity from track to track. Its variety seems less obvious with this consistent sound, despite there being a handful of styles and creative expressions to go around the songs. Freddie gives a really fantastic performance. Even handicapped by a limit range, he puts all his feeling and passion into whats available. A redeeming record in the Queen arch, just one record left now.

Favorite Tracks: Innuendo, Don't Try So Hard, The Hitman
Rating: 7/10

Monday, 1 June 2020

Xzibit "40 Dayz & 40 Nightz" (1998)

Ive seen this sophomore record of the famed West Coast rapper Xzibit often hailed as his best work. My adventure into these eighteen tracks has been both fun and insightful. It would seem there is a significant tone heard in mood and production style that would be a precursor to Dr. Dre's masterful 2001 and Eminem's generation defining Marshall Mathers LP. Released a year earlier there is a undeniable stylistic similarity. 3 Card Moly would slip easily into 2001without the blink of an eye!

The only apparent link is Mel-Man who handles production on Los Angeles Times, a stand out track with a crunking groove and sparse bassline for X to bounce his rhymes off. Sir Jinz, Xzibit himself and a few others put together the rest of the songs. Given their worlds would collide over the next few years, I'd never thought it was mister X to the Z with the apparent weight of influence on that era that helped define my youth.

Onto the album itself, X is far more pronounced and assertive than his previous effort. His aggressive energy is channeled into his flow well, making for explosive strings of rhymes that click with the beat. Nobody Sounds Like Me's opening verse a great example of stars aligning. Bringing on a helping of guests keeps the records pace interesting but its not all gold. A disappointing feature from Method Man on Pussy Pop pulls together a disposable track with a flimsy hook from the Wu-Tang legend.

Xzibit can't help but let a little of his humorous nature through. Ironic rhymes, amusing interludes and bizarre tracks like Shroomz crop up for relief in places. He also has a very serious side too, not shy of addressing topics often challenged in conscious Hip Hop music. His story telling is elevated too, Inside Job is a brilliant word by word ride of a high stakes incident playing out through his swift rhyming. Vivid song!

One of my favorite track has to be Let It Rain, bringing together again his liquid crew for everyone to run through with a series of solid verses. Its got such a fun groove and vibe to it and summarizes my overall experience, its a really fun record that doesn't get too deep into any of the variety it offers. The main surprise was the similarity with musical landmarks yet too come. Xzibit is a talent but even on his "classic" work I don't feel like we see the best of him.

Favorite Tracks: 3 Card Molly, What U See Is What U Get, Nobody Sound Like Me, Focus, Los Angeles Times, Inside Job, Let It Rain
Rating: 7/10