Reviewed by Ahnon Knomis
Well, among certain circles there was certainly considerable hype about a new record about to drop. The one we’re speaking of combined the beat making abilities of one Sean P (formerly of Bone Circus) with the verbal calisthenics of the emcee manCHILD (Mars ill). The result of this collaborative effort was a highly anticipated album dubbed “Move Merchants” which was also the namesake the duo chose to call themselves.
For years I’ve personally been excited to hear more traditional boom-bap type production blessed by a manCHILD verbal battery. Even on Mars ill tracks it was the ones that had more boom in the bap that kept my attention. Then again, lets face it… The kid has got skills! manCHILD has that ability to shoot words around like a wild west gun slinger taking out crowds of bad guys like a one-man army. Doing it all in perfect metronome with swag and confidence to boot. Not too many artists can say that. Well, they could but their critics might say otherwise.
Possibly the most impressive thing to me about manCHILD as was evident on this release over P’s beats is his natural ability as a poet and a wordsmith. He never sounds choppy. Always fluent and smooth with his delivery. Always creative with his content and swag. Always relevant and entertaining to listen to. Fans can expect nothing less on “Move Merchants” from manCHILD. Something different however was the soundscape you find him flexing over. Lets get into that now.
I first heard Sean’s beats on his “Styles for Miles” album which I had to admit I was rather impressed with (production wise). Sean has a unique approach to his massively multi-layered soundscapes and dirty traditional drum samples. When I think of a Sean P beat I think of the likes of genre’s such as downtempo or electronic or maybe even nu jazz. Similar artists in those genre’s like J Boogie, or Massive Attack, or even RJD2 come to mind. Thievery Corporation, Nightmares on Wax, Twilight Circus Dub Sound Systems… All those artists and groups from labels like Om come to mind. P’s beat constructions consist of a steady 4/4 drum patterns strung together with vinyl sampled familiar sounds laden with dust and noise as deep organic bass guitar notes provide a deep presence. Enter in the highly dub influenced ambiance and funky grooves that keep the overhead of his production layering themselves building break-downs and bridges that manCHILD so eloquently filled-in with very un-mars ill like singing hooks and I’m loving it even more.
A few highlights for me included the two strongest tracks on the album. “Live As It Gets” featured Theory Hazit and manCHILD’s Deepspace 5’s com padre Playdough. The dirty synth chords fit into breakbeats and slice and dice table work as P sets the banger and emcee’s burn it up on the mic. Sure fire radio hit that should bang on every reputable underground listening spot this side of the true school. “Get Over” I believe was my absolute personal favorite track on this album. The lyrics of a struggling father trying to hold it down for his fam on the edge and brink of falling apart… among other things. So incredibly symbolic is so many ways to families across the World right now. My only problem with that song was I couldn’t tell which one I wanted to hear better? I was stuck between the original version that hits near the beginning of the disc or the remix that nearly closes out the album. Both versions are absolutely critical additions to your iPod playlists and will have you shouting the chorus out your car windows to un-suspecting passers by wondering what is wrong with you. Haha! Good times! Thanks for providing the fun guys. Keep hits like that coming!
A few draw backs. First of all one of the most obvious elements I could have done without was the filler interludes that took me up a notch on the annoying meter with each rotation the album went thru (thank God for mp3’s so I could eliminate those bad boys quick!). The first rotation through, ok cool. The second time, ok, kind of annoying but I can deal with it. By the third or fourth album listen I was really getting disturbed by having to hit “next” on my disc player after each song and skip the obnoxious fillers. You know… it wasn’t even the over use of the coin “chings” sampled from Pink Floyds “Money” that did it to me… it was the “Leave It To Beaver” era tv commercial mash-ups with un-whitty Move Merchants references. No thanks guys – I’ll pass. Novel idea but it got really old reeeally fast.
The second drawback I almost eliminated from this review because I knew I would catch a lot of flack for it but again I’m going to put it out there for what its worth. With this being a Phatmass release, presumably both artists are Catholic and there was a few references specific to Catholicism that I found myself having to separate from. Lyrics like “I got the Holy Father / I got the blessed mother / I got the communion of saints now for every other”… and “every hail Mary I say I meditate on the life / that was given for my right to fight”. Arguably any references to Catholicism could be considered trivial objections however each person will defier that in their own way. I don’t think it was meant to be subversive since Phatmass is the distributing means and their website is well published on the liners and in the audio itself. Basically, what I’m trying to say here is if you have a beef with the Catholic church and you don’t like walking that line in your listening experience then be forewarned. I doubt however the Pope is going to come knocking on your door asking you to convert for buying this record. So don’t get too hung up on that okay?
Back to the album. I want to close out the review with this. Not only do you get 12 bangin’ tracks but then Sean P goes ahead and laces the disc with a full instrumental version of each song as well! For those keeping score at home that’s 28 tracks deep all on one cd for your listening pleasure! You get hot beats. You get dope lyrics from one of the most respected vets in the game. You get all this just in time for Summer to close-out and you get it all for a reasonable price. I would ask you… Is spending your money to buy a copy worth it? Then again I think you knew the answer to that already. Emphatically, yes!
For fans of: Deepspace5, Mars ill, Scribbling idiots, Tunnel Rats, Theory Hazit, LMNO, Playdough, Bone Circus, Sean P
Purchase CD – iTunes