RECENT REVIEWS
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JADAKISS - KISS OF DEATH

THE STREETS - A GRAND DON"T COME FOR FREE

BEASTIE BOYS - TO THE 5 BOROUGHS

ZERO7 - WHEN IT FALLS

GHOSTFACE - THE PRETTY TONEY ALBUM

MADVILLAIN - MADVILLAINY

CEE-LO - CEE-LO GREEN...IS THE SOUL MACHINE

KANYE WEST - COLLEGE DROPOUT

LIFESAVAS - SPIRIT IN STONE

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

CHRIS LOWE - THE BLACK LIFE 

Album: The Black Life
Artist: Chris Lowe
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I'm sure everyone saw my post about stumbling across MC/Producer Chris Lowe's The Black Life, so you know a bit about his story. Chris was part of the Connecticut hip hop scene from the late 80's-early 90's that produced Steezo and his landmark album Crazy Noise. It was in fact the sticker on the album proclaiming Chris to be of Steezo Fame that prompted me to buy the album. I've since gone back and listened to my Steezo tape to figure out the connection, Chris DJ-ed for Steezo-e under his nom de cut DJ Chris Cosby. Really I should have made the connection, Steezo shouts him out on the classic opener Bring The Horns.

I had no idea what to expect, but the terrible cover photo of him drinking a cosmo, the terrible album title, and the fact that it was on Female Fun records had me a little skeptical, but the strong list of guests and curiosity won me over. I can say now I was pleasantly surprised.

As I listened to this album one thing kept running through my mind: "how did this album get made?". I don't mean that in the way you might after hearing Afroman released a second album, but in a good way. The classic, sampled production and straight-forward rhymes make this album a better-fit for 94-95, which isn't a bad thing. It probably says more about hip hop today than it does about the album. Chris handles all the production with the help of fellow Connecticutian Dooley-O and they do a fine job. There's no keyboard beats or techno bleeps here. The Connecticut posse does it the only way they know how, with samples and drum machines. In fact there's even a small interlude with Chris and Dooley-O talking about how they found the popular 'sugar snaps' break.

Most of Chris's lyrics are centred around pleasing the ladies (Let's Go), rocking the party (Get It Goin On), and bringing back the real hip hop (Funny Fake Snakes). He's like a throwback on the mic; he keeps it pretty basic, but he's smooth and fun to listen to. I mentioned the guests on this album were a drawing point before, and they all deliver. Large Professor is solid on Uncut Raw even though he sounds like he's rapping over the phone. PMD sounds like he found a rap fountain of youth on Buckwhylin' (classic early 90's title). Dinco D sounds like he gained some weight on Treacherous 3 as he's got way more bass in his voice. The old school style posse cut Do It Again sounds like a 93 classic with Chris, Steezo, Dooley-O, and Tall T sharing the mic.

If you like the hip hop and your definition of old school doesn't start at Biggie Smalls, you will like this album. This is what hip hop albums used to sound like. He even has a DJ track where he faces off with DJ Cash Money, that's good stuff. I mean, Steezo's on it, c'maaan guy, that should be enough for you!

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