featured REVIEW


O.C. Smoke And Mirrors Hiero Imperium • 2005

Behind the smoke and mirrors of the rap industry there's realness. Ever since his first appearance with Organized Konfusion, his classic album 'Word…Life' and the excellent follow-up 'Jewelz', Omar Credle has kept it real. Surely, like many other rap fans, we turned a little suspicious with 'Bon Appetit' but O.C.has never backed down. 'Smoke and Mirrors' is actually the man's second album this year, but due to publishing issues, 'Star Child' was shelved.

In the meanwhile O.C. signed with Hiero Imperium. 'We don't have to babysit you, just do your thing', Hiero said to O.C. So the first smart move he did was hookin up with Mike Lowe. As there were plenty of guest producers on 'Star Chid', this album is solely produced by Lowe, who's formerly known as Myke Loe, producer on Lord Finesse's 'The Awakening', a few Das EFX tracks, on a record of the obscure act Ill Biskits, co-producer of Jesse West and DJ on Artifacts' 'That's Them'. Low’s also gonna produce CL Smooth's upcoming comeback album, and proves on this effort that he can hold an album. Although almost 90 percent of the songs are slow, epic beats, characterized by strings, heroic keyboards and chipmunk sounds, there's enough craftsmanshift and variety to entertain the listener. Most of the tracks have a warm, mellow touch to it due to nice soul samples such as Madleen Kane's 'You and I' used on 'Emotions' and The New Birth's 'It's Been Such A Long Time' in 'Going No Where'.

O.C. remains O.C., spittin lines about the game 'So many impostors, talking hostile, meanwhile the rap game is like senile', fucked up love affairs 'I'm in the bistro, sippin cappuccino for dolo, sufferin the loss of my wiz, I’m goin home solo' and especially about holdin his own 'Who I be, ain’t your concern, I stand alone, cuz I'm a man' as he raps on 'What I Need'. O.C. is serious, no bullshit, no nonsense, straight lyrics. But whether the verses on this album will be sampled as much as those on the 'Word..Life' album, remains the question. 'Smoke and Mirrors' is not packed with top notch lyrics, but now and then he proves that sharp punch lines -'I'm the real deal, Chinchilla feel, I be higher commodity than U.S. steel'- and smooth imagery –'You made me pull ya card like a dealer, always the truth, like tequila; swallow the worm'- are still his trademarks.

'Smoke & Mirrors' is a good album, it's definitely not a classic, better yet it can't be a classic because O.C. has a past against him, but it's nice. Fans since day one will have to look behind the dreadful cover (that functions like 'smoke and mirrors') and spin it a few times before really getting into it, but in the end, all odds are in O.C.'s favour; at this level of his career and in this timeframe, he chose a perfect label, a solid producer and he still writes with a seldomly seen passion.

POSTED ON 10|18|2005 by cpf

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