16 November, 2011@2:57 pm
Emcee Sean Boog and producer Khrysis, collectively known as The Away Team, have been making their bones on the underground hip-hop scene for about 10 years. Their 2005 debut album National Anthem and 2007 follow-up Training Day were welcome surprises, with Khrysis on the boards with the heat and Sean Boog on the mic dialing the temperature up with the fire. With their third studio album Scars and Stripes, the duo returns, this time with a slight change to the groups dynamic. With this release the duo sets to show their growth, transformation, and how they’ve earned their “Stripes”.
Upon first glance, Scars and Stripes projects the image of a highly political album. The cover of the album depicts a photo from the 1965 Watts Riot, a large-scale riot which lasted 6 days in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA. As explained by the group in regards to the album cover and title; “During the Watts riots of 1965, racial tension was at an all-time high, due to Desegregation and Police Brutality. The riots were a direct reflection of an angered society. This, however, placed a “Scar” on American history. The riots, although violent and fatal, was a necessary turn of events in order to get where we are as a society today. We observe those monumental events in our country’s history and relate them to hip hop and the changes it has made worldwide.”
In a nutshell, Scars and Stripes relates to the “scars” that Khrysis and Boog have endured as a group, and as individuals. The album is highly introspective, with Boog providing the majority of the rhymes, and getting on his job on tracks such as “Drift” , “Bad News”, “Scars and Stripes” and “Road to Redemtion. Tracks such as and “Happenin’ Today”, while a little more sociopolitical are also enjoyable and are able to get the message across without coming across preachy. In listening to Scars and Stripes, it’s quite evident that Boog has improved as an emcee, both technically and in his writing.
Guest-wise, Scars and Stripes, is pretty heavy, but unlike a lot of other collabo heavy albums, is a success. The standout track, “What Is This” (feat. Evidence) finds Boog and Ev joining together to deliver a dope combination. Talib Kweli, and Rapsody join Boog on the decent “Set It Off”, but the biggest collaboration successes come in the form of “Hot Potato” (feat. Halo and Sundown) and the sick “Paid” (feat. Laws and Big Remo). The downside of the some of the guest appearances is that they seem to push the group into the background. Boog presence is minimized when surrounded by the guests.
As a producer, Khrysis has developed into one of indie hip hop’s most sought after beatsmiths. His sample based production, sprinkled with many works of original composition have put his name on many a liner note and on the tongues of fans, when discussing favorite producers. While he played the background on National Anthem and Training Day, Khrysis steps up on the emcee tip on this go-round. Though not a super emcee, Khrysis (the rapper) helps to break some of the monotony and contributes well to the album. Tracks such as “4 The People”, “Cheers” highlight him as an emcee, but don’t get it twisted, Khrysis still runs things on the production boards. His stout production makes the album and keeps the head nodding constantly.
Overall, Scars and Stripes stacks up to the duos previous releases and easily slides into a first place tie with National Anthem in the groups catalog. While 17 tracks is a little long, Scars and Stripes is worth the listen, as even local fans won’t be able to help cheering for The Away Team.
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