Fashion Expo Volume 1
One after another, emcees, DJs, turntablists and auxillary officers of hip hop offer scripturally-inspired and holy words wrapped up a variety of externals. It’s a heady experience and even those starved for brand new material will scarcely be able to take the entire 36 tracks (2 discs’ worth) in one sitting.
The compilation was masterminded by the humble Syntax Records honchos who double as artists on the label (Sackcloth Fashion, see review). Needless to say, that gives these execs. an advantage, as their production, mixing, recording and mastering skills come authentic.
And we have to agree with the brief press notes that accompany the project: there indeed was a strong ‘no chaff’ policy in effect for this endeavor a separation of the wheat from the chaff, the phat from the wack.
The result? An avoidance of the twin plagues of compilation CDs (uneven production, weak tracks mixed in with strong ones).
The consistency in production lends a vibe of continuity, with a tendency towards to orchestral loops and thick, sometimes booming tracks. But a compilation is a compilation, and it would be near impossible to remove versatility, especially on one like this, which has over 30 artists on board.
It’s just that this time you’ll hear some of these artists in a different production context than you've heard before. Click here for the complete lineup.
Hip hop veteran Peace586 finds his place on the project with “Runnin’”. What a track, with catchy hook and simple, profound flow sermonics. Fellow journeymen, E-Roc, Playdough and GRITS also handle respective tracks, tackling a variety of themes.
Corey Red impresses every time out, and he continues that trend here. Featuring Precise, “No Gray Lines” is a song that grabs with his hyper monotone patter that’s manipulated to give a apocalyptic feel. “There’s no more gray line, either you with Jesus or you're not, either your soul’s headed for heaven or hell is where you’ll rot”.
Refreshingly, the female emcee voice has a say on Fashion Expo. And you’d be dead wrong if you’re assuming that this is tokenism. On par with the best of the rest, you find Diz Organ’s west coast parlance on “Under Man” to be lyrically hard hitting, beat flowing, and true. She also pops up with vocals on the multiple artist collab, “Quality Junk”, as the opening track on disc 2.
Here’s some other select cuts that generated deep appreciation, based on innovation, head bob-ability, memory stickiness and how severely the urge ran to press that ‘track repeat’ button.
More like, it’s the teacher.
— reviewed by Stan North —
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