After garnering major-props for their breakthrough debut, 2000 Fold, Styles of Beyond (Ryu, Takbir, and DJ Cheapshot) went splitsville shortly thereafter due to internal conflicts that arose after their deal with the Dust Brothers fledgling imprint went awry. Now reunited and on their own imprint (Spytech), S.O.B. is back with an LP, Megadef, that with the aid of just one major medium (MTV, radio) could do for them what In Search Of did for the Neptunes.
Sophomore slump? Fuck no!! Megadef is an explosive LP that whether intentional or not, resounds with the same genre-blurring, frat boy exuberance found on the Beastie Boys seminal debut License To Ill. Picking the brains of Rick Rubin, the Bomb Squad, and Guy Ritchie, DJ Cheapshot bridges the rock/rap hybrid with relative ease and manages to turn a veritable melting pot of sounds and influences into his own rendition of hip-hop gumbo. Though the Euro house shuffle of “Eurobiks” and the cookie-cutter, double time rhyme cadence of “Pay Me” feat. 4Zone are obvious miscasts. Cheapshot’s production is both incendiary and riot inducing, as he implements stabbing electric guitar wails over Jefferson Starship’s “Somebody To Love” on “Outta Control”, and the frenetic metal chords unleashed on “Megadef” & “Superstars” (peep Ryu’s Camp Lo impersonation) would make even Chuck D and Dave Mustaine nod their heads in approval. Likewise, Cheapshot deftly juxtaposes elements of The Stooges and the theme from Guy Ritchie’s Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels on Ryu’s fiery solo-excursion “Be Your Dog” where Ryu’s (who is unquestionably one of the industries most underrated emcees) inflammatory vocals seem to be aimed squarely at a certain multi-platinum outfit that Cheapshot previously helped “Reanimate”—-”another half-ass hit out now/we used to chill till that motherfucker bit our style” and further “now you stuck with the truth till we dig up the bones/I feel pregnant birth to a musical clone.”
While Megadef marries a wide-array of genres (where else will you hear an emcee express his “infatuation with the Human League” as Ryu does on “Live Enough”) its not an LP that hinges strictly upon S.O.B.’s ability to bridge gaps. The playful lead-single, “Mr. Brown”, maybe a misfit, but its undeniably catchy and Cheapshot provides a more traditional backdrop for the bicoastal extravaganza “Playing With Fire” featuring Apathy & Celph Titled. However, Cheapshot saves his most trill effort for “Live Enough” (think Beethoven meets Hendrix) where Ryu and Takbir’s chemistry reaches an apex on the LP’s magnum opus.
Though Megadef epitomizes the sound groups like Linkin Park can only strive to achieve, those who subscribe to a set ideology of what Hiphop is “supposed” to sound like will undoubtedly snooze, as its one of those efforts that cannot be conveniently tagged or confined for mass consumption (unlike Linkin Park). Yet, if you’re able to approach it with an open-mind you will discover what is soon to be one of 2003′s sleeper hits. Just don’t ask if the samples are cleared!!
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