Montezuma's Revenge CD
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Pitching respected underground artists at doomsayers currently contemplating hip hop’s imminent demise would somewhat fudge the point that rap’s pop chart-troubling incarnation is slowly strangulating the genre.
Yet veteran Oakland group Souls of Mischief’s comeback album, almost a decade since their last, proffers up a plethora of arguments countering and concurring with the original argument. And that’s without examining the titular connotations of naming a re-up record after, it seems, traveller’s diarrhoea.
The chief conundrum is a stylistic one. Birthed from the same fertile 1990s American ‘alternative’ hip hop scene that unleashed De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest, as with many of their contemporaries the basic SoM template has remained effectively unchanged.
Still, reconvening was a logical step: their individual solo careers hardly went inter-stellar during the interim, despite garnering cult acclaim as part of expansive west coast crew Hieroglyphics, alongside Gorillaz collaborator Del tha Funkee Homosapien. In one breath, SoM – MCs A-Plus, Opio, Phesto and Tajai, joined for the entire returning journey by De La Soul/Handsome Boy Modeling School production king Prince Paul – kick against everything their supposedly artistically barren cousins represent.
Simultaneously, little on Montezuma’s Revenge possesses the mind-blowing futuristic impact to suggest they couldn’t have comfortably conceived the album pre-hiatus. Nobody can dispute that the foursome display seasoned verbal skills throughout, but sadly that focus rarely elevates the actual songs above workmanlike, Prince Paul’s imaginative contributions outshining the mouthpieces on Proper Aim, Fourmation and various others.
SoM even appear to poke fun at the position they find themselves in via skit Mr Freeman, among a handful of between-track filler nodding to Prince Paul’s predilection for such diversions. “Stop doing that old school s***, son,” advises a Morgan Freeman impersonator. “You need to let it go.”
Credit where it’s due, though: Montezuma’s Revenge confirms that SoM’s 1993 debut album, 93 ’Til Infinity, was no empty statement. This is hip hop for those who like beats that boom-bap, lyrics that run deep, and a general nostalgia-bleeding vibe that sticks fingers in ears and pretends that the past two decades never occurred. --Adam Kennedy
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Montezuma's Revenge is a new era for the Souls. They are all older, a bit more mature, and yet with this album they've retained that timeless `93 style hip-hop sound. Much credit has to go to Prince Paul for getting the very best out of Souls. Prince Paul knows how to make an album. In this age of Itunes and people only downloading tracks they like, "the album" is almost dead. Prince Paul has created something that is complete and is best consumed as such. The entire album flows from beginning to end and it covers so many styles.
I don't think you will ever find a better rap group than Souls of Mischief. They are a unified force, they come together as one and smack you over the head with those ridiculous flows and lyrical gymnastics. It is not simply a track with 4 rappers each dropping a verse. They combine together as duos or together as a foursome like in "Fourmation" dropping one line each. They follow on from each others rhymes, they drop in and out like tag team specialists.
What is special about this album is that it isn't just the tried and true hiero formula of non stop battle lyrics. They have created great songs here. "For Real Y'all" is just a driving bassline with Opio hitting the chorus over and over again. It just bumps. The hooks are also back on track. On Trilogy they become unnecessarily long and unwieldy. Things are kept simple here, Prince Paul using samples in "La La" or a simple "Tour stories, true stories" in Tour Stories. It often work's best and its why 93 til infinity still sounds good today. Think of "Never No More" as the blueprint. The topics are still varied from crazy women in "Postal," leaving women in "Lickety Split," and storytelling tracks like "You got it" and "Dead Man Walking." This combined with the signature hiero bangers like "Hiero HQ," "One," and "Poets." It's finished off withe summer BBQ track "Home Game," which really deserves a single and a music video to be released in summer 2010. That would surely help blow up the album. The track has a great feel reminiscent of other hiero hits like "You Never Knew" and "93 til Infinity."
I think what Souls of Mischief does is create albums that you can listen to over and over again. Don't listen to some reviewer who's played it a couple of times amongst 20 albums he is reviewing and given it 3 and a half stars. This album is a classic that you can listen to over and over again and till you can recite every verse. The beats are incredible, the flows and rhymes on point and the vibe an era of hip-hop in 93/94 that has never been matched. Prince Paul has always got the sound of the tracks right. Everything is not crisp and clear, he's intentionally made it sound like something from the early 90s.
Take "Proper Aim." Surely one of the greatest Souls of Mischief's tracks ever. A thick double bass line comes roaring in. Vinyl crackles, kicks and snares and the Souls hit you with that trademark flow. It really gets no better and is a great example of the quality of the album.
Song titles - "One" and "Tour Stories" are both wicked tracks. But Fourmation is sick beat beautifully mastered that I just can't stop listening to!! Jeez man, this album is great. I missed these guys for soo long. Ah, and one last track to note.. "For Real Y'all"... That's the track I want to hear before a fight or a nasty football game!! Get you PUMPED .. lol
I haven't bought a hip hop album in few years.. these dudes torched the mic! they always do.. best music purchase i've made in a while..lol
Simply put, as of today, I think that flow-wise Souls may be the strongest hip hop group I've ever heard, and I've been listening to hip hop since the beginning. I mean, for those who thought Hieroglyphics was just Del, Pep and Opio (and maybe Casual), I think you've been sleeping on Tajai(who for me was the only one who showed up on 'No Man's Land'), A+ and Phesto. They are all lyrically on point on this album, and it's all still in that cheeky, fresh Cali style that has always characterized them. You should definitely check it out.
FAV TRACK TOUR STORIES ,LALALA WONI,PROPER AIM
BIG UP PRINCE PAUL MIGHT BE HIS BEST WK SINCE 3 FT HIGH AND RISING