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8 April, 2003@12:00 am

 Best known as the emcee blessing RJD2′s beats on the recently released Soul Position (RJD2 + Blueprint) Unlimited EP, or known to others as the producer blessing Illogic’s emceeing on Got Lyrics, Blueprint joins the ranks of Diamond, Lord Finesse, Evidence, and others as one of the few emcees/producers that can hold his own weight in both areas. Keeping that in mind, he delivers The Weightroom, a compilation of sorts not only spotlighting his hip-hop ambidexterity, but also the rest of his crew who hope to tone their emcee muscle with this release.  

    One thing heads will notice here is Blueprint’s diversity as a producer. While on Illogic’s Got Lyrics, he provided the bearded emcee with brighter, more up-tempo beats, here we find the producer delving into darker and sometimes more abstract selections. The gloomy pianos and eerie violins of “Time Management” fit Blueprint’s sarcastic rants well, just as the heavy crate sound of “Keep Movin” does. But while he carves his niche as a solo artist on the few unaccompanied joints on here, even more so he reaffirms himself as one of the next generation of producers coming out of Ohio, amongst RJD2, Fat Jon, and J. Rawls. Peep Illogic in his prime on, “Lucky”, coming off like a more enunciated Aesop Rock; or Vast Aire proving he’s not stuck in El-P’s shadow as he rips Print’s dramatic pianos over hard hitting Infamous Mobb Deep ’95 snares (word to Havoc) on “ICU”; or even newcomer CJ The Cynic shining over a collage of violins and Marley Marl drums on “Prison Workout”; and let’s not forget the posse cuts, such as the smartest “Scenario” ever, “The Orphanage”, a dope emcee orgy featuring the combined talents of Slug, Aesop Rock, Illogic, Blueprint, & Eyedea; or the wonderful “Paradise”, where each of the Weightless crew trade lyrical jabs over a beat that would make D.I.T.C. jealous.  

     But for all its achievements, The Weightroom does have its faults, the main problem being that it relies too heavily on tapping into the new pool of talent, and with so many unfamiliar emcees on this, every once in a while it reeks of a Wu-Tang Clan affiliate album. With all due respect to everyone involved, Blueprint’s beats have seen better days than on tracks like “Rags To Rugged” (feat. Bahdaddy Shabazz), “Five Dollar Boy, Millon Dollar Man” (feat. Bru Lei), or “Slave Songs” (feat. CJ The Cynic & Plead the 5th), each suffering from emcee contributions not up to par with the Printmatic production. Ironically, because of a few sour eggs mixed in with an otherwise fresh dozen, some heads may cry that Blueprint needs RJ’s beats to rhyme over or that he needs Illogic to rhyme over his beats - but both statements couldn’t be further from the truth, as the talent is here. All Blueprint really needs is a tight solo album, with little involvement from other emcees or producers, but this is good enough to hold us over until that day comes.

  Mixtape D.L.
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