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It can be hard hearing a newcomer and not comparing him to Jay-Z or Big Daddy Kane or any other top notch emcee. Ultimately, however, it’s a fair comparison. If we are going to listen to someone’s album, then they should have the incentive of quality or at the very least the attempt at doing something different or greater than all of the other artists out there.  On S.O.S.’s How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, he gives a good excuse to give him a chance, but still has his throwaway track moments.  Then again, so have Jay-Z, Big Daddy Kane and any other MC in the history of hip-hop….

The first thing you’ll notice is that it’s not exactly an upbeat album. “Apocalyptic Doomsday” kicks off the record and features an ATLiens sample that goes back to the days of when Outkast were a little darker.  Meld that with production that sounds like a more approachable El-P, and you’ve got some ingredients for what is an interesting –  and despite it’s themes – inviting album.  The Outkast likeness comes back again later on in “The Balance”, which features an acoustic guitar loop that could have been an Organized Noize production circa 1997 – and that’s a good thing.

The Def Jux similiarities don’t stop with El-P as “2013″ finds S.O.S. on common ground with The Perceptionist’s Akrobatik, if maybe a little more laidback on the lyrical side of things.  The album’s only major missteps are “Work” and “Bionic”. “Work” sounds like a cut rate Dr. Dre beat, while “Bionic”, despite it’s strong hook, seems like something that would be the 11th song on a T.I. album.  By all means, there’s no shame in independent MC’s branching out, but it just doesn’t fit with the rest of the tracks on the album, which says a lot of the cohesion of the other cuts.

“Save You” is one of the album’s most interesting tracks, however.  It’s got a rumbling robot groove that is the sonic under belly of a love song.  Whereas most MC’s feel the need to slow down the beat to Marvin Gaye levels and add in a throwaway hook, S.O.S. goes the other way keeping things fast and alive rather than cold and slow.

The album ends on the instrumental “Expose” and “Time Capsule”. “Expose” could have been a throwaway interlude, but is a solid beat that in the vein of the work of Blue Sky Black Death. “Time Capsule” wraps up things up, and shows that this really was an album, not just a collection of songs. It’s a track that belongs at the end, sounding like the most heartfelt song on the album.  While there are some missteps here and there, this is a solid album from someone clearly putting not just time, but thought into his work. - Dane Johnson

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