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1 January, 2001@12:00 am

In essence, the release of Binary Star’s Masters Of The Universe (also known as Waterworld) was comparable to Brandon Lee’s untimely death while filming The Crow. Here was an album that was recorded in 1997 and 1998, but was held in the vaults until the year 2000, when it was finally released. It received a huge amount of critical acclaim throughout hip-hop’s underground, but by the time it hit the streets, Binary Star was dead. Much like Bruce Lee’s son, Binary Star didn’t survive to witness its success. But while the group may have disbanded, that hasn’t stopped the Lo, the One Man Army, from assembling a new platoon of troops to carry on at least half of the legacy birthed on Binary Star’s Masters Of The Universe, with Subteraneous Presents Waterwold Too.

Waterworld Too isn’t the “classic” that Masters Of The Universe was argued to be, but it does a good job of expanding on the blueprint of “average guy rap” found on the debut. One thing that separates this release from its unofficial predecessor is the fact that it’s no longer a binary duo, but instead a self-appointed “magnificent seven” emcees on wax. Like many crew albums, this does take away from the tightly packaged, natural cohesion between the tracks and the emcees, because the listener is being bombarded with so many styles at once. And as usual, out of the lucky seven, their leader One Man Army (aka Lo), is the strongest member, with an incredibly likable voice, clever wordplay, and true emcee charisma - just listen to him rip through “Double Essay’s (S.S.A)”, with the sole purpose of pointing out emcees are ass-backwards.

But as a crew, they are at their best when picking on hip-hop’s opposite sects on “Word Em Up” or shady cats eyeing the women in their life on “Player Haters”. They also use several extended metaphors, some which work, some which don’t. “Monsters” and “Subterraneous”, which compare industry and society’s evils to creatures of the night seems a bit cliche while the terrorist hijacking of your “Mental Planes” is a somewhat tasteless metaphor that hits a little too close to home after September 11th. On the same token, the traffic metaphor for “Life In The Fast Lane” works just fine.

Fans of Binary Star will undoubtedly enjoy this album, as will those who take interest in Middle American, bedroom based, homemade hip-hop from groups like K-Otix and All Natural. While not as consistent as Masters Of The Universe, it still works as a nice introduction to Lo and his crew, and perhaps the starting point for a new legacy of Midwestern emcees.

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