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by Max Herman
4 October, 2005@12:00 am
0 comments

    Mr. Greenweedz and G.Riot of the Family Tree manifest precisely what Chicago hip-hop represents: beats and rhymes that are as soulful as they are grimy. On their full-length debut together, G-Strings, G.Riot unearths enough rare jazz breaks and rugged drum patterns to keep heads nodding throughout. Meanwhile, Mr. Greenweedz keeps his lyrical output engaging by offering insightful commentary about both the world at large and his own life with his uniquely gruff tonality. Together, these two deliver a mostly consistent and occasionally experimental effort.

     Aside from a few overly busy tracks (“Tent of Miracles” & “LSD”), in which Mr. Greenweedz comes at the tracks too eager for the beats at hand, this album consists of on-point material. This Chicago duo shines through the brightest, though, when they really pay attention to each other’s styles. Take the title track, “G-Strings,” for one, where Mr. Greenweedz coolly flows in accord with G.Riot’s playful piano loop. “Carlos Castaneda,” is another highlight, which sees Greenweedz rhyme and harmonize, becoming one with G’s cinematically jazzy instrumental.

     Amid the chemistry between Mr. Greenweedz and G.Riot there are personal highlights as well. While G.Riot contributes a few lengthy instrumentals, his composition “The Child Won’t Sleep” is the most intriguing. Complete with live sax playing, this track sounds like a sporadic studio session that sits well between the rest of the album. As for Greenweedz, his lyrical highlight comes on “Moment of Clarity.” This wake up call of a track sees this inquisitive MC remind us that we all should reach some sort of turning point in our lives. As he raps here, “Some cats are afraid to die broke and penniless / but what is that worth if your soul has emptiness?”

     The material on G-Strings may not be catchy enough for major radio airplay, but it’s good enough to place these two Chicagoans among the underground’s best. These are the type of beats and rhymes that helped make Chicago hip-hop famous. And with their spontaneous touch, hopefully Mr. Greenweedz and G.Riot can help further put the Family Tree and Chi-City on the international hip-hop radar.

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