The first week of 2002′s August was a big one for new releases in indy hip-hop. Not only did DJ Jazzy Jeff come creeping out of the woodwork with the buzz-worthy The Magnificent, but also RJD2 followed up Dead Ringer with the awesome Soul Position EP with partner Blueprint, while Motion Man & Kutmasta Kurt had hopes of Clearing The Field with their release, if it wasn’t done first with the Def Jukie heavy Urban Renewal Program. One month later, looking at the sales figures, ironically, almost all of these releases outsold perhaps the best of the bunch, if not one that stands just as tall with these other heavy hitters, Capital D and The Molemen’s Writer’s Block (The Movie). On this release, Capital D, who is best known as one-half of Chi-Town’s All Natural, teams up with Windy City production team The Molemen, for possibly the sleeper hit of the year, if not perhaps the best project yet to come from either camp.
Previous projects from All Natural were fan favorites, but one common beef was that they were a bit too preachy, if not the fact they weren’t sewn together as well as other hip-hospital projects from artists like Common, The Roots, The, & De La Soul. What separates Writer’s Block from All Natural’s other projects is that Capital D is this time plays the observer, with a conceptual album of inter-related stories involving a series of characters from a Chicago city block (hence the name, Writer’s Block (The Movie)). For the most part, he strays away from being a prophet with a mic, only offering his advice to the characters in the story when asked for it, seldom getting caught-up in their surrounding drama. Over the span of 14 tracks, Capital D wonderfully illustrates the lives of characters that may or may not be based on real people or events, with such great detail that the listener is virtually sucked into his world for an hour. A taste of Chicago is experienced brilliantly as he pens tales of the everyday struggle that are equally poetic and illustrative.
While this idea sounds great on paper, it truly can only be executed successfully if the production is as top-notch as the stories told, and that’s where the Molemen come in. Among the three producers, they show heavy influence from some of hip-hop’s top beatmakers, and their appreciation for quality shows. On the intro, ‘Writer’s Block Part 2′, Capital D sets the stage for the entire album, introducing us to the cast of characters, with a nice beat by Panik that salutes RZA’s Only Built For Cuban Linx era. Following are both ‘Young Girl Lost’, a story about a mixed-up girl named Liza who took a few wrong turns, and ‘Paper Chase’, which chronicles the events of heist involving a few of the main characters, both propelled by dark, Alchemist-like backdrops. The classic influence of producers that shaped hip-hop music for an era is heard throughout the whole album, whether it’s of Diamond D (‘Currency Exchange’), The Beatnuts (‘DU’A (The Deen’s List)’), or simply coming up with indirect variations on lost production styles of yesteryear, as each ‘Crossfire’, ‘DU’A (Stevie Wonder)’, and ‘Cause and Effect’ illustrate. Even when Cap takes production chores himself, one can’t help but feel for the neighborhood’s surrogate mother, ‘Mrs. Manley’, as he pens a woeful rhyme in her memory, over somber, rainy pianos. While Cap draws the picture, The Molemen paint the colors, and the marriage of the two makes a happy baby, even if it’s nursing on tales of misery.
In the end, when it’s all put together, it’s pretty much a no-brainer, as Capital D & The Molemen’s Writer’s Block (The Movie) is without a doubt one of the strongest indy projects to drop this year, with even the bonus instrumental CD of the album being incredibly satisfying by itself. (Note: The ‘Writer’s Block’ instrumental disc is a HipHopSite exclusive, only available if you buy this album here. - editor). Whether you consider yourself a fan of these artists or not is irrelevant; definitely do not let this one pass you by, you won’t be disappointed.
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