Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Reviews:: Deezuz - Soulden Era

All right, I think it's high time we get back on the Alberta rap train here at the hill. Not counting Cadence and his Weapon, it's been a while since we had some Alberta hip hop content, but like so many albums before it, Soulden Era the new album from Calgary MC Deezuz showed up randomly in my mailbox a few weeks ago. I remembered Deezuz'a semi-unfortunate name from his guest appearances on Lyric1's album, Get In On The Ground Floor, which I thought was decent enough, but didn't leave me super-jazzed to get my Deezuz on. However, a quick perusal of the track list showed guest spots from Kool G. Rap, Sean Price, Joe Scudda, and Buckshot. Certainly enough to peek my interest.

Now, with interest peeked, how does the Soulden Era fair after a few listens? Not too bad actually. I can't front on the production, especially on the first half of the album, with classic, static-y drum breaks and plenty of soul samples that give the tracks an un-deniable headnod factor. And Deezuz himself is a solid MC, with a flow that shows he has studied the game thoroughly. But over the full 15 tracks, I found I couldn't exactly buy into the album. To me, it felt like every song was a variation on one theme, the whole "I'm on the grind, struggling to get by, I'm sacrificing everything for this, it's life or death, I almost didn't make it, I'm weeded 24-7, and although maybe I shouldn't be, I just can't help it" vibe. I don't know Deezuz, perhaps this is real to him, but it feels a tad forced to me, and after listening to the whole album I still felt I had no idea who this guy was and what he was all about.

That being said, I'm not saying there aren't quality songs on the album. The horns, plucked guitars, and twinkling keys on Break It Down provide a catchy, uptempo backdrop for Deezuz and the immortal Kool G. Rap to go for theirs. I have to say, no matter who you are, or how you made it happen, getting a guest verse from G. Rap on your album is impressive. The autobiographical Livin' Free is a funky ode to the "403", with Deezuz showing Calgary some love. The 80's R&B; vibe of Cover My Tracks is a good contrast for Deezuz and the rugged rhyme styles of underground fave Sean P. Deezuz romances hip hop on the solid World Without U, proclaiming his love for the artform and coming across more authentic than many of the other songs. Wistful guitar licks provide the backdrop for Deezuz, Fatty Down, and Moka Only to lament the elusiveness of love on Never Fall In Love Again.

So in the end we have an album with a number of solid tracks, and an MC with skills and some definite potential. As far as I know, Deezuz is a rather young fellow, so he's got plenty of time to find a bit more of a voice. I'm well aware that paying homage to the "real" hip hop aesthetic is something everyone does, but hip hop should also be about originality, and at some point you have to find what it is you have to say. However, Soulden Era is a solid debut none the less and proves the hip hop heads in Alberta are still putting in work.

Posted at 9:52 AM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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