Verbal Kwest “Batman and Batman” album review

Indie (May 31, 2011)
Review by Anthony Perez

I remember back in the day, sitting on my bed with a pack of Oreos and a glass of milk in front to the TV at 5pm tuning in to Batman and Robin. It was exciting to see how Batman and Robin would come to the brink of certain death, but with the use of his bat belt they would both be able to escape. One of the greatest things about Batman was the fact that he was a regular man, whom by circumstances beyond his control, lost his father and mother through a senseless crime but still became a superhero. He vowed to fight crime and rid his city, Gotham, of criminals. With a costume resembling a bat, various hi-tech gadgets, martial arts training and sheer determination he set out to fight crime. Since his creation, we have seen numerous TV shows, movies, toys, video games and other forms of merchandise created. One of the latest releases from Verbal Kwest uses this theme to weave a skillful and thoughtful interpretation of Batman and Batman.

Verbal Kwest is composed of two Chicago emcees, Julian “J.Kwest” DeShazier and Anthony “BreevEazie” Lowery. They are very skilled emcees with several individual releases under their belt. Their newest release is a 13 song CD entitled Batman and Batman. From the first song all the way to the last one Verbal Kwest takes the listener through a story of how humanity can be like Batman, a regular man that despite his imperfections can became a superhero. This story is skillfully told through soulful hip-hop with an updated 90’s sounds.

I must say that the first track, Batman and Batman is a bit deceiving. This track has a more distinct Midwest feel to it with the 808 sound and double time hi hats. My first thought was that the rest of the tracks would follow this style. To my surprise the second track, Believers comes in “hard”. This song is sampled based and has a boom bap feel to it which is carried well through the rest of the CD. The beat, the chords the rhyme patterns… all I can say is that it is a head nodder. Both emcees, who have really distinct voices and styles, mesh well together and are on point with their lyrics, punch lines and delivery. It is always a welcome sound to my ears when I hear the use of a DJ and scratching, and Verbal Kwest does not disappoint in this department through out this CD.

As for stand out tracks:

Flashlight – has great, energetic and infections production, the singing fits the tone of the track, the theme goes beyond just being the light to asking God to be His flashlight to shine light on the world as they live life.

I’m Batman – which for me really pin points what the whole CD is about. Both emcees talk about their struggles, pain, hurt and shortcomings but despite this they will continue to make a difference for the Kingdom of God thus becoming like Batman.

Crazy Streets – both emcees paint a vivid picture of what they see as they ride thru their streets. You can hear the pain, passion and plead in the hook.

No project is perfect and this CD is no different, but the strengths in this album do outweigh the shortcomings. Through out the songs there are some overlapping topics and some sound issues. The I’m Batman track does not sound as polished and the rest of the CD and there are some inconsistencies with the volume. Regardless of these few shortcomings, Batman & Batman is a great listen from beginning to end.

I will definitely stay tune to the same bat channel and same bat time for the next Verbal Kwest release.

For fans of: J-Kwest, BreevEazie, 1773

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  1. Not sure I agree on how the production sound is described here. I don’t hear much boombap or any 90s sounds. The production reminds me of the type of beats Kanye was making on ‘The College Dropout’ and ‘Late Registration’ as well as other beats he was making at the time (albeit without the pitched up vocal samples) – essentially midwest Hip Hop – which makes sense seeing that VK are also from Chicago.

    The overall sound IS soulful, and it probably WILL make your headnod and the overall production style is consistent across the album without getting boring.

    If you want to hear the style of production for yourself the project is streamable on Bandcamp

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