1 January, 1999@12:00 am
Live from Area 51 from New York’s Masterminds offers up a challenge to the indie rap world: Come correct or don’t come at all. With the recent glut of independent releases suffering too often from underproduction, weak lyricism and even general laziness, this duo’s slammin’ EP avoids rap cliche’ and delivers straight butta with a heaping helping of positive mind penetration.
Jumping off with “Bring It Back” emcees Kimani and Oracle trade verses in between a familiar KRS-ONE sample. A quick clavichord loop runs throughout, begging DJs to attempt a beat juggle.
“The Fast Way” finds Company Flow’s Mr. Len slicing up B.I.G. on the EP’s least spectacular cut. It’s a little too methodical and lacks energy, aside from Len’s cutting. But that’s to be expected on an EP-and while most EP’s suffer from wack jams most of the way through, that doesn’t happen here. Things speed up nicely with Mr. Khaliyl (formerly Mr. Man of Bush Babees) on “Joints”. Kimani describes the track with deadly accuracy when he rhymes, “Three of the best that’s unsigned at one time.”
“Hip-Hop Music” contains a head nodding bass line and the duo offer heads even more slanguistics. The spontaneous sounding jam finds Kimani and Oracle having fun and explaining their love for hip-hop. While L-Fudge’s appearance on “Onetwothree” is unquestionably dope, the record’s gem is a more reflective cut “Memories”. An elongated piano loop over an unobtrusive ride cymbal provides the emotional background for two important stories. Kimani begins by recalling vivid memories of his father who died at an early age, and the lifetime of pain it has caused. Oracle then follows with a related tale. Faced with a similar situation to that of Kimani’s pops, Oracle talks of his own unexpected child and the complex problems and immense joy that came with it. Lyrical venom with a purpose? Don’t wait for their album, pick up the EP now.
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