Living Legends’ latest release is a pleasant surprise. After years of putting out music on a grassroots level, selling tapes from their backpacks on Bay Area streets and throwing cheap concerts, the collective’s recent material has lacked the charm and focus of their older work. Although this is a problem with overly prolific artists such as themselves, the Living Legends have proven they can create moving music, and this latest release reflects that. Eleven tracks in all; Legendary Music Vol.1 is more of a sampler than an actual album. Mostly featuring solo tracks from the crew, alongside a few guestspots and collaborations within the group, this release is filled with hits and misses-but the hits do outnumber the misses.
The CD’s opener, “Moving At The Speed Of Life” by Asop, features fellow underground icon, Slug of Atmosphere. The production is a bit repetitive, but it allows room for Slug and Asop to deliver raps in atypical cadence. Although not a great song, it does have its merits, which is mostly grounded in smart lyrics and technically sound rapping. Luckyiam PSC, who has been the most consistent member of Living Legends in recent years- besides Murs – has two songs on this project that are very enjoyable. “Another Day” and “Rap, Rap, Rap” are cliche song titles, but the melodic production compounded with PSC’s laidback, unpretentious raps make these tracks very enjoyable.
On the subject of unpretentiousness, Grouch’s lament on the project “Artsy” is anything but. Grouch states, ” You ain’t artsier than me, because you a sixteenth Mexican, you ain’t ethnican.” What? The silly lyrics attack pretentious people by using stereotypes, but ironically, it’s Grouch that comes off smug, making the track off-putting. Besides the shallow lyrics, the song fails aesthetically as well. Other tracks which are also unmoving are 3MGs “2010″, which overly uses a very recognizable sample, and both Bicasso tracks which are dull and uninspired. Add to this Scarub’s “Close To You”, which is not only all over the place, but filled with cliched raps from the usually original emcee. Luckily, Murs’ “Love You Like This” is mellow and witty, much like his recent work on Murray’s Revenge, and G & E comes correct with stellar production and lyrics on “Remember Who You Are.” Moreover, Sunspot Jonz “Purple Kush” is the surprise of the album, finding Jonz delivering smooth raps over a catchy beat. Although considered the crew’s weakest link, Sunspot’s time on this release is perhaps the best.
Overall, this release is a testament of Living Legends’ talent and possible direction. Although some of the members can still rock the mic, combining smart content with clean delivery, others have taken sharp turns in their music, lacking the appeal of their previous work. But as a packaged product, Legendary Music Vol.1 is definitely worth your time, and at the very least, a few listens.
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