“Between your future and your present, between what’s real and what’s fake, between where you are and where you want to be, lies the land of make believe…” This is the underlining theme of the latest album from emcee Naledge and producer Double-O, better known as Kidz In The Hall, for the album Land of Make Believe. In contrast with their previous album, the critically acclaimed The In Crowd, one can see the growth in self –awareness from the Ivy Leaguers. On the former, there was a sense that the group had something to prove or accomplish, not only for themselves, but for the whole Midwest region, which could be seen in the number of guest appearances amongst Midwestern emcees and their peers. But this time is different. It is almost as if a realization was made with the release of Naledge’s mixtape Chicago Picasso. Basically on Chicago Picasso, Naledge seem to find his voice, and he has always been very cocky, but now he is comfortable, feeling like he has nothing more to prove. This is the same for the production. Double-O is not scared to experiment, which results in some of the best production that the game has been missing with the same monotonous beats that we are accustomed to hearing.
The lyrical and production clinic begins with the intro, over a thumping drum kick assisted beat as Naledge describes what the group is up against, “Desk full of CDs with no one to listen/For every Rip Hamilton there’s 5 Eddie Griffins/10 Len Biases, 100 Ben Wilsons, 1,000 Will Gates, daddy always told me that you seal your fate…”, knowing that at anytime one could succeed to the highest plateaus or descend to the lowest pit in this circus called music. This is followed by the underground smash “Flickin” and the electric groove, lead single, “Jukebox”. Other notable tracks include the uplifting “Take Over the World” and the peer-to-peer feature “Fresh Academy” featuring Chip the Ripper and Donnis. Another good guest appearance is the Kid Daytona assisted “Out to Lunch”, a 90’s-esque track that helps to show the diversity of production by Double-O.
Overall, Land of Make Believe is a coming out party from a group that was been looking to join the party for a while now, well, no more outside looking in, no more trying to be down with the in crowd, their time has arrived. But what is most interesting is how this is album serves as a testament of patience, where as on the previous album one could tell or feel the anxiousness of gaining recognition that one should not have to fight for, but now it is like they do not care about how one might feel cause they understand themselves that much better as musicians, accepting things that might discourage most, but is it funny how things work, when you have a philosophy of “letting the chips fall where they may…” everything seems to work out for the best, truly defining that everything happens for a reason.
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