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by
2 July, 2003@12:00 am
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Though Pep Love would eventually go on to secure a solo-deal with the Hieroglyphics Imperium imprint, before his Ascension, Pep, along with Jay Biz, were short-lived members of The Prose.  While the duo’s debut, The Shaman, never saw the light of day until now, it was recorded (92-94) at the height of Hiero’s rise to prominence and a chunk of the material here was as widely sought after by Hiero tape-trading fiends as some of the core members (Del, Souls of Mischief, Casual) rare B-sides and obscure demos. 

Though The Shaman has been vaulted for nearly a decade, this impediment actually works too Pep and Jay’s benefit, as the union (though solid) would have failed to resonate in the same indelible manner as previous Hiero debuts.  However, in an era of slickly produced tracks and rampant materialism, The Prose have undeniably appreciated with time, as its nostalgic quality alone is alluring enough to entice any true school head.  Immediately dating itself with the anti-weave P.S.A. “Rughead”, The Shaman eschews overzealous concepts for braggadocios emcee bashing and intrinsic production, which albeit briefly, reacquaints you with hip-hop’s inner child.  At the height of their rise, Hiero was known for weaving Cali doctrines, over jazzy loops and NY boom bap and that niche is furthered here; Pep fly’s nuff heads on “Can I Kill ‘Em” and flows effortlessly over Domino’s eloping (remember “Brown Sugar”?) bass licks and conga’s on “The Blues”. 

And while this is Pep and Jay Biz’s set (“Get Em Up” & “Feeling For The Flow” feat. Casual), the chemistry between Pep and Del is obvious, as Del lives up to his mantra (Funkee) on “Let’s Keep Searching” (which begs for another verse as it clocks in at a slight two-minutes) and fashions an innocent chill out jawn with “Days Of Blueness” where Pep laments–”I get inspired when the blunts get fired/I’m tired of all these niggas acting like they bout ta start a riot/calm your nerves/get perved at the chill spot/we can still hotbox when we at the hillspot.”

The vaults at Hiero maybe getting light, but its to our benefit, as The Shaman is a breath of fresh air that any hip-hop fan can, in the immortal words of Q-Tip, “inhaaaaaaale.”

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