Think back 8 long years ago. Like Masta Ace says on “Seasons”, “the bottom fell out in 2000”. To this writer, it was nearing the end of the underground era of hip-hop and ushering in the only made for the club era. The plethora of underground releases was ungodly and to find something that stuck out was rare. Enter DJ Fakts One alongside Mr. Lif and Akrobatik. Both Lif and Akrobatik had been making a name for themselves for a couple of years, but coupled with this talented DJ/Producer they were about to shoot to the height of underground fame. First appearing on “Cro-Magnon” and then again on the Akrobatik EPs “U Got It”, the Perceptionists crew was born. Fast forward 2 years, this up and coming producer puts out his official first 12”, “The Show Starter” and the buzz begins for the forthcoming album. Then the superb “Grown Folks” featuring a then unknown Little Brother drops, and the anticipation builds, but still no album. Perceptionists album is released; Akrobatik drops a couple of LPs, as does Lif, but still no Fakts One solo project. Then, Mr Fakts One disappears from the face of hip-hop, along with his debut opus Long Range.
Just when you are about to give up hope on something, i.e. J-Live’s The Best Part, Large Professor’s The LP, KMD’s Black Bastards, someone from out of nowhere finally releases that lost LP into the wild. This is the exact case with Long Range. Though it’s been finished nearly 4 years, the album never would have seen the light of day without somebody somewhere saying “this is so good, it needs to be heard”. From the opening track, “Ridin Dirty”, with its booming 808’s and Fakts showing off his skills on the turntable, hardcore hip-hop fans will be hooked. The aforementioned “Grown Folks”, “Show Starter” and accompanying “Show Starter (Remix)” also make the album, due to the fact this is the exact album Fakts One was going to release prior to his disappearance from the game. No track cuts, not additional production or remixing, this is the original album, as it was intended to be heard.
“Life Music” introduces promising up-and-coming emcee, Rocklyn and songstress Maya Azucena. Meanwhile, the snapping snares and piano loop on “OK” has you fully involved before Outerspace and King Syze even start their verses. Chan murders “Born For This”, Boot Camp Click shows up for “Don’t Stop” over Fakts rolling drums and soulful sampling. Another standout track is “Audiovisual” with J-Live. J-Live breaks down each sense, you can see him but he hopes you hear him. “Some see with their eyes/some see with their hands/I’m hoping you see with your ears/if you understand/the type of music you can frame up on your wall/this is the audiovisual for all of y’all”. Finally, “Selfish” with Akrobatik and Lyadonna finds the two going back and forth about relationships, as Fakts flips up the beat to coincide with the emcee’s mood. The result is just outstanding.
There isn’t much bad to say about the LP, as each track shares plenty of stand-out moments. Even emcee’s that this writer wouldn’t usually like to hear smash tracks, as in the case of the Greyskul featured “Set the Mood”. If this album would have come out when it was supposed to, it may have been seen as a certified classic in the underground realm. But, because this is more or less a compilation and not a culmination of one man, it cannot be heralded with the 5 @ mark. With the current climate of the industry, it’s likely that we may never see another full-length LP from Fakts again, but Long Range will serve as a legacy that could have been. – Darin Gloe
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