featured REVIEW


Surreal & DJ Balance Future Classic Hiphop IS Music • 2006

Yeah, yeah, calling your album 'classic' is cocky, you’ve guessed it right: hip-hop is all about bragging, always has been, always will. So why would we have anything against the fact that Surreal & DJ Balance have entitled their album this way, just like we love the fact that Living Legends’ last album is entitled 'Classic' and LL Cool J named his latest release 'Greatest Off All Time' (no wait a minute…?). By the way, Hiphop Is Music associate Othello’s first LP was entitled 'Classic' too, so it’s a habit of the house.

So how are the odds for this album to be eventually classified as a classic*? First of all, Surreal is no Nas or Rakim, he’s got a nice flow, a raw and hazy voice and holds some pretty entertaining rhyme schemes (especially in 'Moment Of Time'). His punch lines and metaphors are sometimes average ('Fly as an eagle', eg.), sometimes with a highlight here and there; 'My raps pound tracks like elephant feet', leaving his love and dedication for the art culture, his Belief and his honesty about certain personal issues, the most vivid aspects of his lyricism. 'The track is the canvass and the palette is my soul', he raps in 'Moment In Time', a reminiscent song, supported by the eerie boom-bap of producer Moo, or the wonderful 'Each Step', where he praises the Most High for the skills that He gave him.

The production on the album is a constant dedication to the mid-school era, not only with mellow jazz melodies, but also graced by vintage up-tempo funk drums (in 'One Man Band', 'Can’t Stop The Bumrush' and 'Speak Facts', the latter being produced by The Sound Providers) and, for 75 percent of the album, flabbergasting boom-bap. For instance: the entertaining 'Car And A Job', with vintage Ohmega Watts production and the theme of 'starvin artist' being tackled 'The struggle to survive sometimes gets played out' while insisting on having a 9-5, 'What It Is', with a b-boy attitude from here to Planet Rock, and the posse cut 'Perm Ink' with neck-threatening drums, a wailing soul voice and guest features by Hiphop IS Music representatives Braille and Sivion (who also plays the sax in the last song); 'Take this music way back to the start like Atari'.

Obviously this is an album made by artists who are soaked in the spirit of hip-hop, musicians who are in the first place fans, admirers of their culture. 'Doin what we feel for the music is the proof, as Surreal once again confirms in 'The Proof'. This is a modern album with the spirit of an early Gang Starr album. Whether it will ever become a classic is most unlikely, but actually we don’t give a rat’s ass, as long as hip-hop remains as fresh as in 2006 (thanks to labels such as Hiphop IS Music) we’re a happy few…

*when we talk about classic, think 'Illmatic', 'The Funky Technician', 'Midnight Marauders', 'Paid In Full' and more.

POSTED ON 10|11|2006 by cpf

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