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by Max Herman
6 April, 2004@12:00 am
0 comments

     Part of what has made California’s Living Legends a mainstay in underground hip-hop is the fact that they’re just regular guys. Compared to the book smart rappers who often spew obscure references, the LL crew is just easy to relate to on one level or another. Roughly ten years after their emergence, the Mystik Journeymen, Murs, the Grouch and company now come together for a new crew effort–not to mend their creative differences, but to learn to live with them. 

     For the most part these guys have enough common interests to make intriguing hip-hop as a crew. But almost every track features a different combo of Legends. And no track sums up the LL crew’s steez better than the Grouch’s solo cut “No Strings”. In it, he proclaims that what you see is what you get–with no strings attached. The Legends don’t have anything to hide. Just listen to “Addicted” where the crew takes turns confessing their common addiction to Internet porn and jerking off over a straight-up laid-back beat. Some of the description (e.g. “I play the skin flute like I’m in the symphony”) is almost too vivid but it doesn’t get much more honest than this. How’s that for a posse cut?
 
     Fans of the Legends’ dirty funk will find no short of it on this album (“Fill My Drink Up”,  “It Might Be You”, etc.). But it’s some of the more mellow cuts that stand as the strongest on Creative Differences. In addition to “Addicted,” the pondering “Trust Me?” and the D.I.Y. anthem “Hold Your Own” (not another ode to masturbation) features the LL crew at the top of their game. The closing cut, “Aspirations”, featuring Eligh, Scarub, and Murs, is arguably the lyrical highlight of the album. Just check out a few bars from Eligh: “Melancholy: my attitude/ that don’t mean that I’m mad at you/ I’m focused on getting God’s gratitude–for using the gift properly.” 

     While all of the Legends share a common love for rocking the mic, there isn’t always a common vibe from song to song. Some Legends want to rock the party and others want you to look into their soul. The grimy “Fill My Drink Up” and the optimistic “Hold Your Own,” for example, are likely to attract two different types of listeners. But with honesty comes conflict–hence the album’s title: Creative Differences.

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