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1 January, 2001@12:00 am

 Arising from the ashes of what was once Company Flow, Mr. Len delivers Pity The Fool, the first of three solo projects from each of the group’s members. Once sharing production duties with El-P in his Co-Flow days, Len uses his debut to test his beats out on other emcees; a close knit family of independent allstars each birthed from the basements of Bobbito and Fat Beats alike.

The raw sound that was originated on those two pieces of clear vinyl some five years ago on Official Recordings is forever present on Pity The Fool. Best executed on the Juggaknots assisted “This Morning”, Len shows a prime example of sampling brilliance, by layering spooky backdrops, lingering cymbals, animal mating calls, and classic boom-bap, creating a musical high the fills the room like the kindest weed smoke. “Straight” will also appease Len’s longtime fans, as Q-Unique of The Arsonists spits insulting battle raps over train-wreck like change-ups that somehow end up working out musically, while at the same time breaking every melodic rule. Although Len gets a little bit funkier than usual on tracks like “Get Loose” (feat. Mass Influence) and “Girl (Got To Give It To Me)”, (another hilarious ode to the females from Lord Sear), everything remains raw, as he expands on the blueprint of his original production style.

Still, while he innocently aims for mixshow play conforming to up-tempo chopped beats on “Dummy Smacks” (w/ Chubb Rock & Mr. Live), his most success endevors are those involving the album’s star emcee, Jean Grae (aka What What). Despite her overacting, she steals the show on each of the three tracks she is featured (not to mention the promo only “untitled” track circulating on the Mr. Len vinyl and CD samplers). “Taco Day” is her and Len’s crowning achievment, a disturbing as it is humorous picture painted of a Columbine type massacre, this time taking place at Melon Bayside High with Jean Grae playing the shooter. Meanwhile, she spits drunken battle rap poison at Breezly Brewin (or some other lucky fella), over Len’s sinister guitars on “Love Venom”, proving that thin line between love & hate brings out the best in an artist. “The Hurt” is also excellent, as she is chased down the b-movie hallways of Len’s track, only to confront them with a middle finger salute, smack-talkin’ her lyrics as Murs phones in the hook.

While other selections such as “Bring It To Me” (feat. D-Stroy of The Arsonists) or “Family Matters” (with Kice Of Course and Steady Rock) may get lost in between some of the better joints, Lenny stays on track for the most part, except when he totally throws a curve ball attempting to delve into Death Metal on “Force Fed” (w/ Agents Of Man & Amplifire). While his production may not be for everyone, is it is pretty much stripped down to its raw elements, he’s delivered a decent album with memorable moments. And while the many different talents keep it from playing more like a compilation than a traditional linear album, it might be interesting to see how he would fare teaming up with one artist for his next release; perhaps he and a certain female already have the same idea.

  Mixtape D.L.
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