Over the last few years, the ever-emerging Ohio scene has done a great job of defining itself, with a strong stable of artists that reside in different areas of the state, but sometimes come together for collaborative projects such as this one. Def Jux instrumental producer & sampler extroirdinaire, RJD2 , joins up with fellow producer / emcee, Blueprint as The Soul Position, bringing the full-length, 8 Million Stories, to the table, as hinted on last year’s Unlimited EP.
While the title of this LP suggests that this would be an LP of nothing but Slick Rick inspired storytelling, Blueprint catches wreck in many different fashions, proving his versatility as an emcee. He kicks the door down with his own personal anthem “Printmatic”, where he introduces himself while simultaneously spitting funny battle raps at bitch made emcees such as “You write raps with feathers / in a school of hard knocks / you majored in mascara / with a minor in black leather / a nightclub swinger / tryin’ to get your sister act together,” as RJ’s rolling bassline and heavy horn stabs propel Print’s anthem to cinematic perfection. Blueprint further invites you to “Inhale” his flow on the third track over RJ’s mystifying organs and heavy Congo drums. But Print is most amusing when the elements of his personality seep into tracks like “Jerry Springer Episode”, where he humorously examines his relationship with his boo, who constantly does him wrong, or “Fuckajob”, where he interpolates KRS-ONE’s classic “Outta Here” hook into some humorous regular-guy-rap about the dismay of working a 9-to-5, and the fear of getting replaced by a computer.
On the serious tip, when RJ’s production gets deeper, so do Print’s rhymes, eliminating any chance of being labeled a one-trick pony. On “Look Of Pain” and “Survival”, Print examines the plight of inner-city youth (without sensationalizing it), as RJ packs hard hitting beats (peep that well-timed “C.R.E.A.M.” sample). Even better, RJ really gets loose on “Share This”, where he produces his ass off (“June” style), with an ever-evolving track that Blueprint grows with vocally (“One Mic” style), into a ridiculous classic horn section. The production gets even heavier on “Right Place, Wrong Time”, as Print weaves an ill-fated tale over moody production that is so dope in itself that it could stand alone as an instrumental somewhere on Dead Ringer.
There’s not really much to analyze or go on and on about with 8 Million Stories, except that this is a damn fine album, where RJD2 further defines himself as one of the greatest producers in hip-hop today, and Blueprint better defines his own character, as we get to know him a little better on this album, than we did on his crew effort, The Weightroom. What’s excellent about this album - and you realize it at about the third track in - is since the production is handled fully by one person, and the rhymes handled by one other, it has that tightly knit, classic hip-hop LP feeling that albums like Gang Starr’s Daily Operation or A Tribe Called Quest’s Low End Theory had. From the pulse-pounding piano intro to the “1 Love” outro, the chemistry between emcee and producer is felt incredibly throughout, from start to finish.
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