30 January, 2014@11:56 am
It’s hard to believe that despite their long history as friends together, Evidence and Alchemist have never cut an album together. On wax, the beginnings of their collaborations start as early as the first Dilated Peoples’ 12″, “Third Degree”, as Al produced both the title track and its b-side “Confidence”. But the story dates back even further, as the two actually grew up together, which explains their like-minded views on beats, rhymes, and weed. With them both having twenty-year career spans in the game, now is as good a time as ever for them to come together as Step Brothers, and deliver the Lord Steppington LP.
Much like Madvillainy before it, Lord Steppington is a highly experimental album that gets better with consecutive listens. The duo’s blunted sense of humor comes through all over the record, especially through the skits, which animate the Lord Steppington character as an above the law member of foreign soil, who “doesn’t feel natural” faking humility. Such as how “Byron G” starts, led with an early Kanye rant, as the they trade verses with Domo Genesis and actor Scott Caan (Al’s one time partner in the Whooliganz) over the album’s lone Evidence beat.
The album’s production is uncompromisingly raw, as Alchemist helms the rest of the LP’s beat work. Songs like “Legendary Mesh” and “No Hesitation”, (the latter a flip of Pacewon’s “I Declare War”, as pointed out by Evidence), are driven by Al’s trademark brand of brooding, thumping bass kicks, while things get more experimental on “Swimteam Rastas”. Here, the beat changes up three times, with off kilter samples providing an uncomfortable groove. Things kick into high gear on ridiculous “Mums In The Garage”, shared with Action Bronson, over a beat so raw that it might have fit on Hard To Earn in 1994.
“Banging Sound” throws out all conventional methods of rap production on one the album’s boldest beats, yet passes with flying colors as one of the LP’s illest moments. The album’s lead single, “Step Masters”, is the most accessible thing on the album, but the crown jewel of the LP is buttery posse cut, “Tomorrow”, which brings in Blu and Rakaa, over a ridiculously hypnotic track.
Lyrically Ev and Al trade barbs, going verse for verse, almost seeing who can outdo the other with hilarious visuals. Ev is the more lyrical emcee here, but Al comes with the more quotable, ridiculous boasts, such as “To retrieve exotic pets, karate chop the nipple of yo chest,” and “flipping like things that flip,” among many other bizarre claims.
Lord Steppington is unlike anything either artist has done thus far, which is testament to their versatility. It doesn’t sound like a Dilated album without Rakka, nor does it sound like, say, Albert Einstein from a production standpoint. Evidence and Alchemist have challenged themselves here, and ended up producing a dope, unconventional underground rap album, most likely dreamed up in the smokiest of atmospheres. Here come the lords.
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