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by
28 February, 2008@6:24 am
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  On the fourth track off his new album Sacrifice, Prince George County bred MC Substantial takes a sec to quote the backbone of broadcast journalism, Edward R. Murrow:

    "This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends." Based on the new album’s content, it’s pretty clear that Substantial more than understands that.

      After blowing up overseas, in Japan of all places, with his debut album …To This Union…, Substantial has returned seven years later, backed by Indie Label QN5, with a guaranteed indie classic that’ll keep your head nodding from the opening track "Introduction", to the trailing moments of the final track, "Hood Hope".

      The record is an aural experience that takes you from the gritty "4dozdatdonkno", to the Jazz inspired "QT (Quality Time)", through the Spanish, flamenco-driven guitar featured on "Labor Pains", and all the way to the undeniably catchy club jam "Resurrection of The House Party". With such a diverse repertoire of sound, it would seem impossible for the album to have any consistent flow, but somehow Substantial manages to make the tracks not only work together, but thrive.

      It’s not only the production that’s, well, substantial, but the rhymes and flows of the MC himself. He blazes from track to track with only a few missteps, notably on "4dozdatdonkno" and "Spaticus (Spit 4 Spat)", which sound a bit out of place on an album with such a positive vibe. He more than makes up for the slight slip with standout tracks "Hood Hope", "QT (Quality Time)", and the track responding to criticism of hip-hop, "My Favorite Things". Special guests are few and far between, which give Substantial more than enough time to unleash his lyrical fury. When guests are featured, they’re from the QN5 family, and don’t detract from the songs in any way. In fact, the track "Sign Language", featuring Tonedeff and PackFM, is made even better, making it reminiscent of some of the best hip-hop storytelling by Slick Rick. The track is in no way exploitative, like R. Kelly’s "Trapped in The Closet – Part 1 – 4145829345", but rather, deals with real, relevant issues.

      With that in mind, it’s also nice to see another MC take note of real problems, and talk about them. From the desperation of hood life described in "Hood Hope", to the struggle of a modern working class family illustrated in "Labor Pains", Substantial doesn’t look past the challenges we face and simply rap about "chains and ho’s"", but uses his musical forum to educate and inspire the listener.

      So, you definitely ought to check this album out; don’t steal it, but buy and support an artist who’s trying to make an impact. – Mike Rodriguez

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