While Gang Starr’s popularity has skyrocketed, it’s once promising stable of underground affiliates (Jeru The Damaja, Group Home, Big Shug, AKA- Gang Starr Foundation) have virtually disappeared off the hip-hop map. Back at square one, a now independent Group Home re-emerge to drop their sophomore LP, minus one of the most-revered sound constructor’s to ever sit behind the boards. With Primo adding his signature sound to a bare minimum of one track this go round it would make sense to think that the Group Home’s backing acoustics would indubitably suffer. After all, Primo turned GH’s debut into his own personal showcase, as his punching drum loops and pristine piano arrangements certainly suggested he may have been at the pinnacle of his signature sound (debatable with Primo’s historic catalog of beats). But unfortunately due to Primo’s groundbreaking soundbombing’s Lil Dap & Melachi’s performances came under intense scrutiny, as they were unfairly labeled by many throughout the industry as being a duo that lacked the lyrical aptitude to finish off Primo’s masterful works of mart.
Where one would see Primo’s absence as a detriment, Lil Dap & Melachi buckle up and use it to their advantage. Without Primo to relay on this Brooklyn based tag-team is forced to show their own merit, and in the process use their distinctive flows to squash any ideology that they were merely riding the coattail’s of hip-hop’s producer extrordinaire.
The LP’s blazing preamble “Tear Shit Down” sets the tone for the Group Homes resurgence in two very important ways. First, it is a statement that Agallah is more then up to the challenge of filling Primo’s shoes. Handling a majority of the production chores, Agallah provides GH an assemblage of basic, yet utterly efficient beats to breakdown. While not as esteemed as the man he is supplanting, Agallah’s production serves as the LP’s backbone, and an unwavering source of consistency for the duration of this project. Second, “Tear Shit Down” is one of many tracks handled exclusively by Lil Dap, which is a surprisingly recurring theme throughout. While the GH is better represented when Dap’s raspy voice is interwoven/punctuated with the Nutcracker’s under appreciated flow, Dap proves a worthy solo threat. Showing maturation not only as an emcee, but as an enlightened ghetto philosopher, Dap peels through a cluster of equality driven tracks “Keep Rising”, “Street Life” & “Game Recognize Game”. Although a non-participant for almost half of the disc’s tracks, Melachi gets off when afforded the opportunity, as he and his partner in rhyme bludgeoning the rugged, Alchemist (keeps cranking out bangers) blessed “Stupid MF’s”. Proving that life is the ultimate teacher, Dap & Melachi show how time has refined their outlook, “Make It In Life” & “Oh Sweet America”. In a show of solidarity, Guru and Premier revitalize their previous bond with “The Legacy”, while Guru also chimes in for a Brooklyn bounce session “Be Like That”, which jacks Ice Cube’s “Ghetto Bird”.
While Dap & Melachi are minimalist poets, and their styles are far from complicated, both show a confident swagger that went unnoticed on their debut. The Group Home have not only returned, they have resurrected their careers, sometimes you never realize how much a group is missed, until they remind you.
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