I was a supporter of Dilated Peoples from the moment first hearing the `Soundbombing II' title track, back in '99. Alchemist was busy crafting his legend in the underground scene with hits for the Mobb and the Expansion Team. I thought to myself even then that Evidence always spoke as if from-on-high, like he was 10-feet tall or something; I thought to myself even then that The Alchemist's production would often rival Premier's, and he was already placing classic chops. Considering strongly all of their various works since those early days--all of the their best material to date, coupled with the fact that they showed not only staying-power but also intimidatingly inspirational improvement--with all of this in mind, I found keeping my expectations in proper perspective a very difficult thing to do. This was not going to be just some new collaboration between two highly respected artists, it would be a project sewn together with the thread of consummation.
Production aficionados and lyric aficionados should be equally sated guests of `Lord Steppington'! The big-picture is an understated yet still emphatic assertion of inherent regality, as the title implies. I mention that, because the titular theme was beyond mere pomposity--it carried through actually, in both sound and line. A rampant tendency to boast emptily or unconvincingly, almost begging for the listeners respect plagues many presentations. Gun-talk, material-talk, `the hardcore-ish' approach is cliché for the most part. As for beats: there is another rampant tendency to either make `boring bangers' of the entire selection--with no sense of atmosphere or melodic flow to randomly placed tracks; or, the `playalicious' route is taken--sans the necessary balance with a head nodding, Hulk-smash element. Not so with the details here!
The arrangement of the work is not to be overlooked: the first half of the album roughly, has the neck-breakers and raw vocals; while the middle-to-end portion--consisting of more lounge-mood, slow motion, tree-burning, Brandi swirling elegance--seems strategically split by the b-boy nature of Step Masters. After a brief reprieve, the tone picks up pace once again and finishes strongly. Although the choice of favorite songs is inevitable, this offering is to be best experienced as one piece, within a single sitting. Even with the addition of bonus tracks, the continuity of ambiance remained undisturbed and far from awkward. The well-placed interludes and samples only enhanced its overall stateliness, icing on the cake so to speak--as the highly ambitious attempt to make a grand performance wondrously paid off! Good show, gentlemen--a tip of my hat to you! Hype warranted.