Indie (September 24, 2013)
Review by Stephen Maddox
Buy this album: iTunes
In the fall of 1993 I was a freshman in college. On a rainy November Tuesday, I came back to my dorm room with the highly anticipated album Midnight Marauders by A Tribe Called Quest. From the minute the album started I was captivated by the sound that would become one of the gold standards of this music genre called hip-hop. Here I am almost 20 years after that dreary day, feeling the same way I did as an 18 year old freshman.
Ironically my first exposure to the Procussions was here on Sphere of Hip-Hop during a podcast in the mid 00’s. The track was The Life of Brian. I became a fan instantly and bought their sophomore album which had debuted during that time frame, 5 Sparrows and 2 Cents. It had that organic sound I loved about hip-hop in the nineties, with a twist of originality which made it unique. I’ve stayed loyal to the crew since then and supported all of their solo projects. When I heard around a year ago they were doing a Procussions album again. I was AMPED and thankfully, there is no disappointment to be had in this ambitious project.
One might say, what’s the difference? Mr J Medeiros, the lead emcee, and Stro Elliott, the maestro behind the lovely sounds who also rhymes, have been together since the last Procussions LP. Most of the production credits on Mr. J’s solo work go to Stro. But this new Procussions album is decidedly different from any of Mr J’s work in the interim. J put out some epic masterpiece’s as a solo artist but on this album, he’s a different animal. The voice is grittier, the rhyme schemes, while always complex, hit you harder. And while many a dope producer has put out a rhyme or too in the past, Stro has really stepped up his game lyrically on this project.
The album begins with the aptly titled, “Foreword”. With horns blazing and crescendo J introduces the crew and then the most retarded bass drops and your head is hopelessly bobbing. Definitely a neck snapper. Always unafraid to push the limits of this hip hop thing, the second track The Fringe, an ode to the underinsured underemployed begins with a rock filled guitar riff, and continues your head nod. Track 3 Today, is one of the best of this album and features Canada’s finest- Shad, Jay drops some of his most complex metaphors of his career in the first verse-
New self he just wanna be a whole person
Old self found cursing him for soul searching
Other self writing poems on how the world hurt him
Too close to home he gotta hold it down in third person
Now who’s the first person I’m saying I Am
Give me a second and you will know why I’m dammed
It’s in the record our youth and every blind hand
Our recollection of truth within our time span…
Stro and Shad compliment Jay’s lyrical brilliance well as the track continues. Next up- “On the Mountain”- is decidedly a pop tune, I once read a quote from Theory Hazit where he said making a good pop track is harder than making a boom bap underground track. I believe him wholeheartedly, and well, let’s say The Pros, with the help of singer Logan make a track that should get heavy rotation on every pop station in America. Speaking of collabs, we also see contributions from MAYDAY and Phoenix Troy on Badges, Jonathan Korszyk sings the hook on the Stro solo track Modern Warfare, 20syl on Phantasm and Blame One on The Drum. And for you diehard Procussions fans, “Track 10” on this album lives up to its predecessors on the previous albums haha. It’s hard to find drawbacks on this album, it’s so well done. But if I had to pick a least favorite track, it would be Modern Warfare, I feel like Stro could have done better with his cadence on this joint but that is a minor point. The best tracks in my opinion, on the album are Insomnia and The Drum. Insomnia has one of the most unique soundscapes that I have heard in awhile. Well fitting to the theme of being up late at night contemplating life in a half sleep dream state. The Drum, well let’s just say, I have never had the 808 boom uses so artistically in my life. I have never heard drums like the ones Stro cooked up to put on this track. And the bassline… and then Blame One’s verse…CLASSIC!!!!!! Perhaps in an ode to the great ATCQ the album winds down with the track DNA, musically it’s an interpretation of Electric Relaxation which will make any true hip hop head happy with lyrics that take you down The Pros hip-hop memory lane. The final track Thank You (indie rappers take note!) has the Pros graciously thanking us the fans for our support, many by name. The other tracks on this project are all excellently done. If you are a hip-hop fan or a fan of good musicianship, you will love this album. A definite must have in my opinion.