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4 December, 2008@10:56 am

New from Decon is the Fresh Rhymes and Videotape CD/DVD double-disc package, which chronicles the recent tour featuring Dilated Peoples, Aceyalone, The Alchemist, and 88 Keys. Coincidentally, the new set includes brand-new songs from each artist, whom team up with one another for a series of dope collaborations. Was there a mini-studio on that tour bus?

Short and sweet, the six-track audio disc is the highlight of the collection. DJ Babu sets the stage with the usual scratch intro, leading directly to the masterful posse cut title track. Here, each member of the crew delivers a hot eight bar verse, over a mellow head-knocker by longtime post-Native Tongue collaborator, 88 Keys. “Legendary Status” is an incredibly dope flip on Jackson 5’s “ABC”, broken down by DJ Babu, as Rakaa and Aceyalone tear up the perfectly executed, minimalist track. Dilated Peoples prove that they haven’t missed a beat with the Alchemist produced “The Last Is First”, leaving mouths watering for their next full-length release. More inter-artist collaboration is seen on “I’m Like”, where 88 Keys delivers humorous verses over a sparse Evidence track, as well as on the closing cut “Left Out In The Cold”. The latter finds Aceyalone trading rhymes with producers-on-the-mic Alchemist and 88 Keys, over another classically produced track from our boy Al. The musical portion of this project is worth the price of admission alone.

Meanwhile, the DVD half of the album gives us a behind-the-scenes and in-front-of-the-stage look at the Fresh Rhymes and Videotape tour. Much of this is spent on the live performances themselves, which unlike many hip-hop performances is filmed in HD (but delivered on standard DVD format). 88 Keys opens the show to an open, but inexperienced group of listeners, many of whom seem to be listening to his music for the first time. His performance is a loose-knit, sketch driven set of tracks, which includes a hilarious moment for all of the Kanye fans, as he performs his West collabo “Stay Up (Viagra)” without him, but makes up for it in his own special way. Watch as the fans in the cheap seats chant for the doppelganger.

Aceyalone’s set follows, a short and sweet montage of tracks from various albums, which unfortunately does not include any classic solo or Freestyle Fellowship material (possibly due to publishing rights for the release of the DVD). Despite performing for a hometown House of Blues crowd right there in Los Angeles, the reception from the young demographic is lukewarm. This all changes when headlining act Dilated Peoples take the stage, whom light up the room with “Back Again”, as all hands are thrown in the air. The show includes a handful of classics and new joints, as well as a creepy moment when Evidence comes face to face with his biggest fan.

All in all, while it’s hard to justify spending money on music these days, Decon breaks the mold with this unique CD/DVD package, which is equal parts dope on both formats. Coupled with the fact that the album carries a budget price of under $10, this makes a perfect stocking stuffer or reason to skip lunch tomorrow at In & Out Burger. – Pizzo

  Mixtape D.L.
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