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1 January, 2001@12:00 am

 The opener, a symphony of strings meshed perfectly as the Intro is a fading instrumental less than a minute long, and by the texture, it’s not at all hard to believe that a hip-hop group oozing music so melodic, was conceived at Berkley’s College of Music in Boston. Although they may have been formed there, the ammo for most of this debut is a definite taste of the hometown and current dwelling in Oakland’s city streets. Emcees Raashan Ahmad and Moe Pope, have an attitude that’s so anti-ganster and non-stereotypical of the industry’s faddish trends, that it’s almost like they’re attacking the state of how corrupt and uncultured hip-hop has become. Sounding intellectually solid on “Disturbing Behavoir”, this deep bass-driven jazzy loop creates the pensive atmosphere for the masses to raise their level of consciousness: “With money, cash and weed and fame/are as lame with all these Africans with Italian names – change the strategy!”

The other member musicians pour their diverse studio productions or live instrumentation of organic funk into their interludes, songs and short excerpts of live performances throughout the album. A sure way of making sure you study their technique is the purposefully titled “Homework” interludes – Parts 1, 2 and 3. The members all sit around testing each other by naming some of the most forgotten as well as classic hip-hop artists of the past, and names such as YZ, Kwame, Audio Two, X-Clan, EPMD, UTFO, all the Roxanne’s and much more from the 1980′s, try to prove and connect to listeners who were down from day one! Just as The Roots, The , Digable Planets, or Black Eyed Peas all have tried to uniquely characterize themselves apart from the predictable ice-chain wearing, pants sagging and Bentley renting side of hip-hop, Mission is no different in wisely setting their standards through their image and lyricism of course. The focus of songs like “More than you Know” or “Now I Shine” try to break the cycle of hypocrisy or monotonous stereotypes within hip-hop, with the latter even resembling a vibe similar to that of Esthero.

What pushes Mission as more than promising though, is not just their strong lyrical stance or direction. But all along the way, the magic of their music is solid because they have well-trained musicians, who just happen to be greater fans of hip-hop culture than that of the other cultures of Jazz or Classical music, that normally favor very skilled musicianship.

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