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by Toshi Kondo
6 August, 2003@12:00 am
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Affiliation with the Likwit Crew and being signed to Tommy Boy gave Defari instant credibility when he quit his day job educating America’s youth to drop his debut album Focused Daily.  Unfortunately, it was not a commercial success and he parted ways with the label.  However, hard work and a stellar appearance on Dr. Dre’s 2001 laid the foundation for Odds And Evens, his debut album on his own Herut Music label.

With Dilated Peoples’ DJ Babu and Evidence, and the Alkaholiks’ E-Swift handling a majority of the beats, the beats continue to bang.  Nevertheless, what really determines the final verdict with many of the album’s tracks is subject matter and hooks.  Defari’s forceful and serious delivery generates more favorable outcomes when tackling subjects with more substance.  

This is evident on “Behold My Life (Remix)”, where Babu’s subtle vocal sample underneath rich violins melds perfectly with guitar string plucks, providing a soulful backdrop for Defari and his Dilated cohorts to expound on various aspects of their everyday existence.  Another favorable outcome is “For The Love” which gives thanks to the various role models that Defari had growing up.  E-Swift’s jazzy horns are very germane as Defari’s first two verses reference various jazz greats that his role models exposed him to. 

It’s ironic that Defari expresses contemptuousness for other MCs’ choruses on “Hooks”, because his hurt him on several tracks, this one included.  Examples of this can be found on the generic “Cold Pieces” or “Slumpy”.  The latter exhibits Defari hurling acrimonious retorts to Traci Nelson’s lifeless vocals.

Even with bad hooks tainting some of the album’s tracks, production and lyrics compensate resulting in a triumphant return for this respected Left Coast MC.  Odds And Evens shows how persistence and talent can be used to overcome Industry Rule No. 4080.

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