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1 January, 2000@12:00 am

Without any major label hype, or crew affiliation, Encore has still managed to create quite a buzz for himself (no small feat these days). The ripples his handful of underground singles generated were significantly intensified by his Rakim like verbal explosion “Waterworld”, on Prince Paul & Dan The Automator critically acclaimed Handsome Boy Modeling School Project. Wasting little time, the Automator wisely plucked this Cali phenom too be the debut artist on his newly founded imprint (75 Ark).

Encore’s sheer lyrical dexterity is engraved over every verse of his debut, Self Preservation, as this effortless wordsmith conjures up images of a time when emceeing was in it’s purest form. The man behind the music, Architect, follows suite, as his crisp drum loops, and pristine samples show very little evidence of “contemporary” influence. The contentious “Love And Hate”, reiterates Encore’s traditionalist convictions, as he paints an affectionate/condemning mural of hip-hop with equal fervor; “Hip-hop’s my life/ no time for socializing/ I’m out here trying too keep the culture rising/ but every now and then you cat’s want too plant spores/ becoming cancer’s for everything I stand for.” With “.084″ Encore reveals how an arrest for DUI compelled him to reevaluate his lifestyle, and in turn lead him to embrace the Islamic faith. But while this enlightened emcee underscores his verses with those enlightened beliefs, he has not lost his taste for a wack emcees blood, evident by “Sporadic”, the Joey Chavez blessed “It’s Goin’ Down”, and the high-tech “Situation” featuring the Hiero crew’s slept on Pep Love.

While Encore’s debut contains virtually no filler material, his guests, and production occasionally suffocates his breathtaking delivery. Also, Encore has yet to find the delicate balance between underground and commercial, and what Self Preservation lacks is one track that that will garnish him any exposure outside of the backpacking element. Yet, even though Encore’s intentions are admirable, he should not prematurely pigeonhole himself into a strictly “underground” role, as he is just too talented not to be heard.

Encore’s debut proves that he is one of the most polished emcees to emerge from the flourishing Bay area hip-hop scene (along with Planet Asia). What is also proves is that a few alterations are needed before he ultimately realizes his vast potential. I for one cant wait for Encore’s encore (pun intended).

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