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11 March, 2004@12:00 am

      It’s easy to overlook just another name, in the game oversaturated and flooded by emcees, crews and predictable marketing schemes. Even the most attentive ears - that would me mine - can miss or have a low tolerance when listening to yet another rap LP. Hailing from Milpitas, California, Encore’s no newcomer, already with a lengthy history of 12″ singles under his cape, including “Think Twice,” the result of his collaboration between himself and Peanut Butter Wolf in 1995. Then came “Waterworld” for Prince Paul & Dan The Automator’s 1999 Handsome Boy Modeling School project. His album, Self Preservation on 75 Ark in 2000, followed as his debut LP, and he’s recharged for 2004 with two single releases - first “Zigga Zigga” and then “Real Talk” featuring Ladybug Mecca (of Digable Planets fame) - kicking up a thick dust leading up to his sophomore album Layover, and undeniably grabbing the attention of DJs nationwide. The strength of this album should take his name into further heights than what his 2003 tour with Little Brother and Hieroglyphics accomplished.

      And even though we continue to encompass our overall thoughts on hip hop’s terrible state as it pertains to the mainstream, let’s be more intelligent in specifically differentiating releases as good as this, far away from that grouping and give praises when praises is due. With Layover, Encore’s praise is due. Produced by Jake One, singer Nathan Thomas drips his soulful sauce while gracing the hook with smoothness to Encore’s “The Schizm”, a rich groove, sure to keep the club hot and sweaty. Much like the ingredients that made up Talib Kweli’s “Waitin’ for the DJ”, ‘underground’ would hardly be the correct label to quickly attach to this track, as Encore spits universal lyrics aimed at reeling in a nice catch. When he pours his heartfelt emotions on the parental dedication “My Way Home”, Jake One’s light keyboard touches and solid bass meshed with Encore’s lyrics provide a combination poweful enough to make listeners reflect on their own loved ones: “I’m never gonna forget where I came from, I came from you so I’ll always find my way home / You gave me life, you gave me love…”

       When heavy-hitter Pep Love crashes the recording booth on “City Livin”, hard knock fans need not worry, because this stage-wrecking track produced by Architect perfectly suits their razor-sharp rhymes, thanks to it’s looped, wide-orchestra trumpet sound and well-timed vocal samples from Group Home. Whether it’s on the climactic “Faithful”, again featuring Nathan Thomas’ soulful treatment, or the witty construction of “Real Talk” featuring Ladybug Mecca, Encore most likely will create a nice buzz with this LP. But like so many potent, independently pushed records, unfortunately he may not receive the major props he deserves. But support from the fans can change that…. after all, what good is an ‘encore’ if it doesn’t come from the public?

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