LA’s Styles Of Beyond have been putting it down since the birth of the independent hip-hop movement, which saw the release of their fan favorite albums, 2000 Fold (1998) and Megadef (2003). The SOB’s caught the ear of Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda, who invited them to be a part of his Fort Minor offshoot project, delivering one of the best and certainly most slept on major label hip-hop albums of the year, with The Rising Tide, back in 2005. This would lead to Styles Of Beyond being signed to Shinoda’s Machineshop Records imprint, via Warner Bros… only to suffer the same fate of many artists of the indie hip-hop movement, to find their album shelved indefinitely. Recorded in 2007, and finally seeing release this year via the Demigodz’s Dirty Version Records, it’s evident why a major label would want to shelve this record: it’s too good.
Let’s back up for a second on that last statement. It’s not to say that the major label system is incapable of releasing a “real hip-hop” album, but we’ve seen this happen countless times, almost suggesting that they simply throw their collective hands up in defeat, before even attempting to work something without a “hit single”. Reseda Beach has plenty of moments that attempt to light-heartedly pander to the major label system, utilizing familiar breaks (“Dunky Fividends”, “Call My Name”), penning pre-LMFAO songs about getting drunk (“The Pirate Song”), songs about girls (“Sugar Honey Iced Tea” – also known as “S.H.I.T.”), a double-time song (“Take That”, which also features a blistering verse from Celph Titled) and an ironic, middle finger to radio itself, “Dumb It Down”.
Nevertheless, it’s all done with quality and integrity, so even in their attempts to dumb things down, Styles Of Beyond still come off with phat beats and cheeky-yet-crass, well-thought out lyrics, with an incredibly solid LP. If the above mentioned tracks were their attempts at slightly leaning to more commercial appeal, the rest of the LP takes on a more rugged edge, as tracks like the J. Dilla produced “Hard” and the Big Daddy Kane inspired “Second To None” bang with reckless abandon.
In it’s 48 minute play-time, there really isn’t a bad cut on Reseda Beach, and given the fact that this as-of-yet-unheard LP is now five years old, and still sounds brand new, it is a testament that this is timeless music. So while the long list of Shawty Lo’s, OJ Da Juiceman’s and other one-hit wonders continues to expand, leaving behind a legacy of nothing, Styles Of Beyond have left us with something that will live on for many years in the hearts and minds of rap fans: classically driven hip-hop that knows not age or expiration date. Perhaps one day the major labels will get it.
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