Monday, January 18, 2010

Album Review: BK One - Radio Do Canibal

There are few albums that inspire me to write a review almost immediately; usually I hear one, put it in the mental rolodex, and move on to another, with the intention of eventually getting around to it (lazy, I know). However, this is one of those LPs that really makes you stand up and take notice; so much so that I felt compelled to bring it to the forefront. So, how good is it? To the highs and lows my friend.

THE HIGHS

As suggested by the title, BK One (best-known for being Brother Ali’s DJ) brings a Latin/South American influence to the album, which is immediately felt in the intro, entitled “Ivan Tiririca.” This instrumental track features a slower, melodic sample, followed by a vocal sample. Ultimately, it’s something you can picture rolling to in the streets of Bogota.

The second track, “Gititit,” is a funky banger that Rhymesayers has made a staple of its repertoire, and it fittingly features Brother Ali and Slug. Both MC’s rock the bass-heavy beat with their distinctive flows, touting Rhymesayers skill and passion and giving love to their Minnesota roots. As Ali quips, “Yes just bless this, come and have a party with two fresh Midwest kids, some of ya’ll are probably gonna catch this message, we give it to you real, flex a little skill, maybe a pay a couple bills, chill…”

Immediately following is one of my favorite tracks on the album, entitled “Mega.” Featuring Haiku D’Etat (consisting of Project Blowed veterans Aceyalone, Myka 9, and Abstract Rude), the beat is a rasta-esque mix of pan flute samples, timely bass, and nice percussion, followed by an incredibly addicting vocal sample that graces the chorus. The trio accompanies the beat perfectly, amounting to a very impressive track.

The best track on the album, “Here I Am,” features a crazy trio of Phonte, Brother Ali, and The Grouch. The slower-paced beat features a short sample (can’t tell what instrument it is, but it’s niiiiice) that’s amazingly effective, combined with a dope bass line and appropriately-subdued percussion. Each MC crushes the beat in their own signature way, delivering poignant rhymes and distinguished swagger. This is a must-listen.

Another track worth mentioning is “Philly Boy,” fittingly featuring Black Thought. Incorporating another somber beat, Black Thought spits his signature flow without a chorus, spitting bar after bar without a break. While Black Thought is impressive as usual, what really caught my ear was the instrumental outro to the song. BK One clearly has an ear for samples, and he showcases his production skills for the final 1:48 of the song, just letting an incredible beat ride out properly. While writing this I tried to explain the outro in further detail, but I just couldn’t find words that I felt would do it justice. Lets just say that this is a must-hear as well.

THE LOWS

Honestly, I can’t think of much to put in this section. I could have put more tracks into the HIGHS section (“The True & Living” featuring Raekwon and I Self Devine, “18 to 21” featuring Murs), but I thought I should keep it to 4 for the sake of length. If I have to write something here, I would say that the album features too many mellow beats, and it would have been nice to hear some variation in the production. However, I’m going to end up complimenting BK One anyway; even if there are too many mellow beats, those beats are really impressive. There isn’t much to dislike.


THE GOOD WORD

This is an album hip hop heads will remember; to be sure, BK One’s first installment is one of the most impressive debut albums I have ever heard. There are few holes; there are 19 tracks, the production is top-notch, and the guest spots are incredible (Slug, Brother Ali, Haiku D-Etat, Raekwon, I Self Devine, Phonte, The Grouch, P.O.S., Blueprint, Murs, Scarface, etc. I mean, have you EVER seen a list like that on a producer’s debut album?). However, what may be most impressive about this output is that each guest is appropriately placed on each track. BK One clearly has a special ear; he made the beats, had a vision of who would be perfect for each beat, and followed that vision. His intuition was right on; each MC fits each track like a custom glove. I can’t stress this point enough; a lot of times producers load their projects with impressive guests, but on many tracks the MC’s don’t fit the production. An artist’s flow will seem out of place. BK One nailed every song. That is extremely rare, and truly impressive.

Rating: 5/5

- - J- JB

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