Riding the underground notoriety of their indie-classic EP Spontaneity (circa 97) the Houston trio K-Otix (producer The Are and emcees Mic & Damien) held onto the rungs of the industry with a solid foundation strung together by several successful 12″s. Gradually moving out of total independence, the three found a loving home at NYC based Bronx Science, thus catapulting them back into the full length realm with the well received 15-cut debut, Universal.
While Mic and Damien don’t distinguish each other extremely well as individuals, the two combine tightly throughout, and as the slow-sublime cuts from the EP warmed up listeners ears, their more insistent present-day flows pair together equally as seamless. Headnods abound throughout in much of the flare as their previous Bronx Science contributions, such as the solid indie-mix-show records “Mind Over Matter”, “World Reknown”, “U Know The Name”. Russell (aka “The Are”) makes good behind the boards with the combination of vintage appeal under new-school ethics, putting the record on in the club and walking out with it in your headphones. Yet, the same factors making Universal stand strong also create for it’s sometimes tiresome runaround. Typical braggadocio runs rampant and while handled with craft, and nowhere on the album are there songs of the “7MC’s” caliber (where’s “Questions”?). An older, somewhat elusive “The Club” makes a standout appearance with vigor soaked in vibes as the tell-tale accounts of why clubbin’ might not be all the TV-rappers say it’s cracked up to be. Yet outside of the introspect in “My Life (Alter Ego) Parts 1, 2, & 3″ and the “7MC’s” similar “Front Row”, listeners may be hard-pressed to find total substance what really is a perfect example of new-wave, boom-bap, original rap.
Universal is an indie album somewhat fashioned for the club, with moments of pure artistry to bring it somewhat full circle. Copable no doubt, memorable more than likely, but timeless – we’ll have to see.
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