featured REVIEW


El Da Sensei The Unusual Fat Beats • 2006

How nice it is to get nostalgic and wander off to the day when Artifacts first hit our tape decks with their monster single 'Wrong Side Of The Tracks'. It meant the beginning of a celebrated underground status for both group members, not in the least for El Da Sensei. Somewhere after their second effort 'That’s Them', the duo parted ways and it was not before 2002 that El Da Sensei released a solo album called 'Relax Relate Release'.

Four years later, his sophomore release immediately takes us back to where he left off somewhere in the Artifacts heydays. K-Def’s produced 'Rock It Out', for instance, could’ve been a long-lost gem from the 'Between A Rock And A Hard Place' album. Hard-hitting drums, raw breaks and vintage loops to which El Da Sensei’s unique, rigorous flow sticks like a chewing gum to a sidewalk. With much flavour, El raps 'To my duties and laws to refresh all y'all, with the greatest of songs that could never go wrong, do the neck snap back-and-forth realizing what you've been missing in lyrical exercising', in the opening Illmind banger ànd the album’s first single 'Crowd Pleasa'. El is back, certified and timeless. The beat slams hard and the rhymes flow nicely. 'I run my mouth and I do it real hood', he claims on Illmind’s second production 'Hold On'. The chemistry between beats and rhymes is seldom seen in the 2000s; 'Drunk of snares and high of hats', he continues over bass plucks and some distorted piano stabs in Frequency’s 'Natural Feel Good'.

There’s not really a need for guest features but with O.C. and Sean Price, one’s granted to make an exception anytime. Two raw lyricists who carry along their own sound; the Fyre Dept bring back the sound of O.C.’s latest 'Smoke & Mirrors' album (on which the Dept was also featured) with 'Nuttin To Lose', and 'No Matter' could’ve been a track of Sean Price’s 'Monkey Barz' LP, with its slow drums and twisted guitar loop, while at the same time it somehow sounds like a new Artifacts formation has stood up. 'Applause, applause' for 'Lights, Camera, Action', a trademark J Rawls beat with a mesmerizing loop and hittin snares, and a gift for skilled lyricists to bless it, while the marching and shouting on the other Rawls’ production 'Blow Shit Up!' fits well with the war theme (a tribute song to El’s brother who fought in Iraq). Finally, a blast from the past is the DJ Revolution-produced 'What’s My Name' reviving Just-Ice’s classic 'Booga Bandit Bitch' (from the 'Kool & Deadly' album).

El Da Sensei’s new album is simple but quite clever, containing real lyrics and trademark productions. It's nothing unusual, but it's got straight-up headnodders, some dirty breaks, an occasional trip to the club and a balanced mix of braggadociousness and knowledge. These are the ingredients of an explosive cocktail of rough draft hip-hop music, stirred and shaken by the veteran rapper himself and a new generation of gifted beat chemists.

POSTED ON 03|14|2006 by cpf

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