featured REVIEW


Abstract Mindstate Chicago's Hardest Working Vol 2 4the Soul Reciprocity • 2005

There was once a time when Al Capone ruled the Chicagoan underground, but nowadays hip-hop does. Contemporary hip-hop giants such as Kanye West and Common have put the city on the rap map and are rowing their boat on the mainstream, but beneath it all, there lays an underground that has never been stronger than today. All Natural, The Molemen, Juice, Mass Hysteria, the Galapagos4 roster, Thaione Davis, Infinito2017, Chapter 13, The Pacifics, to name only a few who are keeping the scene alive thanks to hard work.

This brings us to rap duo Abstract Mindstate, consisting of Olskole Ice-Gre and Ebony Poetess The Hellcat. Their first album 'We Paid, Let Us In' released in 2001, followed by 'Still Paying' in 2004 and showed that Chicago's hip-hop was not a class society as Kanye West came down to work with them. On this second instalment of the 'Chicago’s Hardest Working' mixtape series, Abstract Mindstate connected with Chapter 13's producer Rashid Hadee and, before he's gonna get too expensive in the future, they let em produce the whole album (except one song). No Kanye West on this album, although he does give a shout-out, but all-star Common features on 'Nostalgia', a song that honours the old school ways, 'Yes yes y'all, echoes of the walls of project halls'. Other remarkable guests are All Natural's Cap D and old school legend Special Ed, who disappointed with his comeback album but shines on ‘These Raps’, bustin some laid-back but sharp lyrics 'Y'all kids getting so tired, I feel sleepy, I’mma take a nap while they rap, y'all beep me' and 'If it ain’t the cover than I'm on page three' Ed fronts.

But let's focus on the real stars of this album. Abstract Mindstate's stories about surviving and standing your own are not the same old, same old street lyrics, but have a strong, soulful vibe matching the production perfectly. Olskole's Chicago tongue (think Bernie Mac or better Kanye West) is very much present and great to listen to, but especially his female partner EP the Hellcat impresses us with an attitude that goes back to Antoinette or Tairrie B (Jean Grae might compete though). This album sounds like a seventies black movie, the perfect soundtrack to street tales with a raw attitude but an optimistic message.

Hadee's production is superb, on Chapter 13's 'Nevermore's Asylum' he shone already, but now, his style has grown even: the strings and soulful loops are still there but the kicks and snares are rougher, and the arrangements are more colourful. Comparing with 9th Wonder, who seems to be a fan of Hadee by the way, is inevitable, but hell, we ain’t heard a Justus League mixtape as nice as this! Abstract Mindstate is indeed one of Chicago's hardest working artists, and the fruits of their hard labour are tasty, very tasty, so watch out for this group in the future!

POSTED ON 11|19|2005 by cpf

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