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by Stefan Braidwood
27 September, 2004@12:00 am
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       Longtime partner of Rob Sonic in Sonic Sum, Fred Ones also goes way back with New York eccentric extraordinaire Mike Ladd, and helped record and mix the latter’s landmark Welcome To The Afterfuture, a record that was sampling Bollywood strings about 4 years before the mainstream caught on. With Sonic Sum’s The Sanity Annex currently only available in Japan and Rob Sonic putting out his solo album on Def Jux, Ones here steps out on his own, supplying a plethora of well (and lesser) known MCs with an equally varied assortment of hot beats.

     The album’s title refers to mainstream’s seeming fear of crossing into new territory, whether with respect to the nigh-infinite possibilities of sampling, or MCs’ subject matter. As such the album is split into three roughly grouped themes, “Consequence”, “The Future” and “Drugs, Sex And Knives” (well, two out of three ain’t bad). Everything kicks off with Akbar challenging competition and “kill[ing] three MCs with one poem” over an enjoyable rock-tinged joint whilst at a swimming pool. Sinnagi then describes the cost of becoming a crack junkie over a fresh power chord/electronic track, “Rush Cowboy”, that evokes both Rick Rubin and Def Jux (and which slows down cleverly for the aftermath of the rush). Stronghold crew members Breez Evahflowin and L.I.F.E. Long both come hard, the former ripping the haunting strings of “Test” whilst the latter satirises both corny sell-out MCs and their audiences on the superb “The Puppet MC”.

     Elsewhere, Hangar 18 (Alaska & Windnbreeze) drop their tight scifi flow over the cinematic “Evolve”, Rob Sonic conjures a semi-autobiographical tale of family violence on “One Last Stab” and fellow Def Jukie Vast Aire tells the graphic tale of a weed pickup gone awry over a great smoked out, India-flavoured beat on “Some Seeds”. Best of all, though, is the hilarious “Sex And More”, where Slug excels himself depicting a drunken one night stand that goes fantastically wrong (“Making out with a half-naked mental patient/outside whilst waitin’ for your ride/is way underrated”). Anyone who has him down as a whingeing emo rapper needs to hear him ride the dirty dramatics of Fred’s beat with evil delight.

    Phobia Of Doors proves with style to spare that, if the old staples of dope beats and skilled MCing are intact, hiphop can take you anywhere you want.

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