The Best Hip-Hop Album of 2004?
, January 2, 2009
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The Crown City Rockers are perhaps one of the finest new school groups making hip-hop today. I first took notice of this group from lead emcee Raashan Ahmad's debut LP "The Push" - one of my favorites from '08. He's got a smooth, alluring flow with excellent cadence. Above all, he excels in the songwriting department, and brings plenty of freshness to the table that's sorely missing today. Even more striking, the sound they create is massive, thanks to the help of a superb live band. The players include Kat Ouano (Keys), Max MacVeety (Drums), Headnodic (Bass/Production), & Woodstock (MPC/Production) - among other studio musicians, vocalists, and engineers.
The feel of the album is impeccably jazzy and smooth, which follows the concept of "Earthtones" being a very natural, and organic sound. If you are a fan of jazz and/or jazz flavored hip-hop, this is a must buy. Also, it should be noted that the guest spots here capture the artists at their finest. Scarub fluidly spits his bars on "Balance" with sheer speed. Speaking of speed, Gift Of Gab completely murders his spot on "Fortitude". Zion brings the heat on "Without Love" as well. The real star on the mic is Raashan, as he is never outshined on the whole. My favorite cut here is the gorgeous "Sidestep" featuring Destani Wolf - who classes this track up to the max. My second favorite would have to be "B-Boy" - a complete banger with a superb chanted chorus. Other favorites would be "Culture" featuring Luq, and the charming "Simple". Though nearly the entire album is hip-hop based, "D Minor Nine" featuring the extraordinary David Boyce on saxophone is simply a breathtaking instrumental, and definitely one of my favorite cuts on the album. All in all, not a single skip track has revealed itself to me after several, several listens.
What more can be said about this group? You get the whole package here - excellent lyricism, exemplary songwriting, original compositions, incredible musicianship, and a concept drenched in bonafide dopeness. Needless to say, I highly recommend this all-to-often ignored gem.