We haven’t heard from you in a while.
We been here in the studio, in the house,
In the back room, perfecting the rap skills,
Dert perfecting the breaks.
We just been learning the business.
Along the way we lost some things,
But we gained some things too.
We started this, but we gonna finish it,
from "The Long Road"
So begins the sophomore project from Tunnel Rats, asking and answering the basic question that anyone who's ever heard their ground-breaking 'West Coastish' material over past years.
Tunnel Rats is back, and in a serious way, with perhaps some of the most innovative and quality beats and rhymes under the beam this year. Period.
No wonder, considering the group’s composition. Future Shock may no longer be a part, but duo New Breed (Macho and Elsie) is now in. Raphi and Zane are still there, as is founding crew LPG along with Sev Statik. The crew is brought together in various and diverse combinations by board super-specialist, Dert.
After the introductory track “A Long Road” from Macho of New Breed, the album explodes with the self-defining “T.R.’z”, the only time on the project where the entire Tunnel Rats crew comes together.
The lyricism is strong and rhymes are sturdy, with definite ministry that is more subtle lacing of Truth than in-your-face Word. “Pray for the Morning” from Raphi and Macho and Zane’s freely-styled and almost-spoken vibe on “Chainge” are pure refreshment.
Be sure to catch the hidden track, a remix of “Chainge”, this one with initial jazzy soul from Dax, Raphi and Macho coming through in voice over a intensely relaxed beat, exhorting to “let it go, seasons change” as Zane’s smooth flow goes on over.
Sev Statik brings in a nice delivery on his self-titled track (with a massive hook by Elsie). Restrained hints of Middle Eastern instrumentation and intervals make the sound distinctive.
The theme for this track highlights one of the aspects of this project sure to discussed. Sev doesn’t hesitate to vent his frustration at the trials and sufferings he has encountered in his MC ministry, while keeping the Christ perspective forefront.
In fact, at various points on the album, the entire crew is prone to venting their angst at the sometimes nasty goings-on that can occur in the music business, with these sometimes verging on battle tracks.
But at a heaping disc full of 22 tracks, there’s plenty more to choose from, ranging from exhilarating street praise to scipturally refective meditations. Roll into Macho’s awesome “Master Plan” and play New Breed’s “Tunnel Vision”, or Raphi’s “Motivate” which is laced with a beat influence from Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me”.
One listen and cats will flock to these Tunnel Rats. The bottom line here is that Tunnel Vision needs to be experienced, you can’t really explain it beyond that.
— reviewed by Stan North —
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