Reviewed by SSRC
As I went through my stack of CD’s to review, I found myself doing what I normally do – I look at the cover and make an assumption about what the album is going to sound like. After years of reviewing records, I have gotten pretty good at it. I can usually tell by a cover or track listing what the album will sound like or what I can expect from the CD. Now, this is a really poor way of looking at music, but it does show how predictable Hip Hop has become. When looking at the Fire Escape Artists album, I was kind of lost. The cover is pretty basic, illustrating two kids in a homemade fire engine/car running across. It’s not your typical cover. Then, when you turn the CD over, the track listing showcased a bunch of guests that you don’t normally see. I found myself stumped and that intrigued me. It was something new and it made me excited to listen and curious to find out what’s in-store.
The Artists starts off the album with an intro but instead of calling it an intro, they call it “Setting The Mood.” This is perfect, because it really achieves that purpose. It’s a jazzy beat with some vocal samples cut up. It brings you back to the golden era which is one of the strengths of this album and that sound is kept throughout the album. The first track, “Science Down To A Method,” showcases both emcee’s and it proves to be a good opening track. Then comes “Jealous Mistress,” which features Count Bass D and Squashy Nice. This is one of the albums best tracks, as Count Bass D opens the song with his unique flow. They talk about how Hip Hop is always on their minds and how they just can’t stay away. The next track is “Fire Escape Artist” which showcases the artists not only rapping but also singing. This song also has a good sound. These guys are not the next Brian McKnight, but they can carry a tune and show some diversity.
Another track that stood out as I listened to the album was, “Name Dropping (flyoneers)” because they weave in classic album names to the rhymes without missing a beat. It’s worth a listen just to see if you can pick out all the classic album names that they reference. “The Perfect Day,” features Teekay and Afaar as they rap about what a perfect day would look like for each emcee. The beat is really catchy and will keep your head nodding while you soak in their dream days. The last track is called “Another Perfect Day,” which is the second version but features a grip of new emcee’s. This song is really good as well and I like how they kept the beat intact but added some guest emcee’s to talk about their perfect days. “Works In Progress” uses a dark beat with a sped up vocal sample that talks about how we always feel like we have a long way to go until we get where we want. This is a song that everyone can relate to and is executed to make it one of the best songs on the album.
The other standout feature of this album is how the artists’ talk about issues that we can all relate to. They are not going off about how much cash they have or how many souls they have saved. On the track, “Love Thy Neighborhood” they talk about how our communities can be dysfunctional but how we are called to them without question. It’s something that is easy to forget but the impact can be huge if lived out.
If I had to chose one word to describe this album, I would go with consistency. The reason I say this is because the beats don’t falter or let up as the album progresses. The same can be said for the rhymes, as the topics vary and the emcee’s talent’s shine throughout all of the tracks. To top it off, they threw in a DJ track and a song where instead of rhyming they sing. This keeps the album fresh.
I would have to say, this album doesn’t do many things wrong, it’s Hip Hop done with talent and heart. The long player includes 21 tracks and a couple of the songs could have been left off not because they sound out of place but just to make it an even tighter album. Also, the album doesn’t have those one or two tracks that just grab you in a jaw dropping way, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I don’t think that was their aim but, when you have a track that you just can’t stop playing, it is something that tends to enhance the appeal of the album. Either way, this album was a pleasant surprise for me. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who claims to be a Hip Hop fan. It won’t go down as an all time classic but it will remind you why you got into Hip Hop in the first place. It’s nice to find some honest artists who are able to express themselves and show us their hearts through this art form.
For fans of: Sivion, 1773, MG The Visionary, Lightheaded