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by Peter Agoston
3 November, 2002@12:00 am
0 comments

If two rappers didn’t personify the sonic-grit of what many consider the “golden age” of hip-hop more than The Artifacts, then you either got Black Moon or no one else. Yet out of the two groups, one to split and never look back, the other to merely look away, look back and look away again, emcee El Da Sensei remains the steadfast workhorse of them all (not to mention, comparably, to many of his ’94 contemporaries). From one label to the next, collaborating with production more wild and varied than Kool G Rap, and while a few years back his future seemed alock in a labyrinth of 12″ one-off?s, Da Sensai finally stopped his train at the 7 Heads station, at least for now, delivering an album, alive with the creative juice that invoked the Artifact flare not to mention much that has developed of the
Newark denizen since then.

This, his first official solo debut is a mixed bag of all the above. Mild mannered indie-12″ concepts, Artifact throwbacks and outstanding solid smashes. El’s voice carries the weight over both the bland and banging, his consistency is the crux here. A new El is born on light hearted narratives like the tour exploits of “Bouncin” and the sunlight vivid “Summer Time Bluez”.

“So Easily” a lush throwback to those oh so memorable days of The Artifacts bring the listener to question that fateful day the two, emcee El Da Sen and the knotty headed terror Tame One find each other back on track. One can only wonder, especially with Tame’s own less than memorable 12″ run, with mentions made towards him on the fan-remembrance skit “Word On The Street”.

For the flat “Speakin’” or “Focus” you have the incredible in “On & On” (featuring none other than Sadat X) and “Eternally”, proving this album’s handicap, production. El is a lot like his era-counterpart Sadat in that with a distinctive vocal presence, not so distinctive musical accompaniments leave little to complete and compliment a rapper’s potential. El takes a few hits for the team but comes out on top in the grand scheme of this project. He’s been around the block so many times and with so many producers and on so many labels, fleshing out is necessary.

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