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Oktober Zero The Art Of Raw Raptivism • 2005

It’s a shame Oktober (Zero) is no real household name in this game yet. This Rican emcee has been here for a while though. In 2004 he made quite a surprising album at the side of his compadre Acelover with the underground formation 2For5. But Ok also made some noise on the solo-tip in the underground scene; besides the hitsingle 'Reset The Game' featuring J-Live from his decent yet underrated Freshchest 'Projekt: Building' album, he also showcased his (writing/rhyming) talent on little ànd funny mixtape-efforts such as 'Madvandal' (cf. Madvillain beats) and 'To Rob Is Something Like Work' (cf. J-Zone beats). Now, 2005/2006, Oktober Zero needs to prove his art of raw, and has to live up to the standard of his dwellingplace: the South Bronx, the birthplace of hip-hop.

Entirely produced by UK's Quincey Tones, this album is another addition to the growing list of internet or transatlantic collabo’s. Whether it’ll impress you as much as Nicolay’s (and Phonté’s) Foreign Exchange might be in doubt, but Q Tones’ production catches our attention too. Fresh and creative sampling, an original boom-bap feel and very striking how – without ever meeting – Tones manages to support Oktober theme’s and story’s with perfectly matching beats, takin the tracks to a whole other level. On some rare moments the beats even tend to outshine the emcee.

If Oktober Zero has been labeled something before, it has to be as a 'storytelling emcee'. No different on this album, but Ok chose to touch a much broader and deeper range of topics, themes and concept. On top of that he tries to be not-your-average-rapper: 'Black Magic Chick' is a twisted way of storytellin’ about women, 'Twelve Cops Shot' is a conscious track which doesn’t have that preachin’ manifesto stylo and 'Muero Otro Dia' is his bi-lingual 'Ebonics' or 'Broken Language' type-o-joint but flipped in a whole other way.

One of the best tracks of the album is 'Birdz'. It carries a huge metaphor in and out : certain type of people are compared to bird species, 'crazy birds like flics from Hitchcock / surrounded by pigeons on the block / when my shit drops', and the comparisons are striking and well delivered. Another great concept song is the exotic 'Nomad' where Ok rhymes about his own life and struggle in 3rd person; a very personal track, just like 'Name In Vain' (check out the hook which reminds us of the High & Mighty), the melancholic and introspective 'Can’t Go On' (with the same sample 9th Wonder used in Sean P’s 'Heartburn') and dito 'Hell Sounds Heavenly' ('We Already Living In Hell It Sounds Heavenly')

Of course there’s some tracks with the more classic theme of the struggle, keepin it real and trashin the competition: 'Mission To Go', 'Word Born' (which has nice scratches in the hook), 'Next to None' and 'Time To Kill' (1001 ways where and how to kill the competition) prove that the pen is definitely Oktobers sharpest sword. From the darker, apocalytic and double-sensed 'Crimson Sky' ('The Sky’s fallin now / Take it to the underground!') to the painted Kill-Bill-esque bonus cut 'Student Kills The Teacher' Oktober presents a whole lotta styles from the multi-layered Bronx catalogue.

While no one will deny Oktober’s lyrical and writing skills, there’s still a flipside to that coin: while he certainly can build a good concept song (with his creative language), he sometimes seems to drown in ‘em. Some concepts and theme’s are striking and appealing, others make you just wish he would rap over the beat bragadoccio boast style; in that way one could state that Ok should’ve stressed a lil’ more on his delivery than on his bars. A little bit rawer, a lil’ less art maybe? Then again, this is a phat album, with great production and one of the hungriest niggaz in the cadillac. So bump this, cuz it’s f-f-f-resh!

POSTED ON 12|19|2005 by wulf

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