Once upon a time, Eastern Conference Records was the leader in underground Hip Hop music. However, as always, all great things must come to an end. Now with a depleted roster and distribution problems, EC Records is trying to stay afloat and regain their dominance. The label's first attempt to reclaim the throne comes from who else but Mr. Eon and DJ Mighty Mi. The High & Mighty's fourth release The 12th Man sees the duo rebound from the disastrous Highlite Zone, but the group is still a couple steps away from their best work on Air Force 1.
As always, Eon and Milo are at their best when they are able to deliver those hard-hitting underground anthems. When the duo tries to be too creative or flashy is when they run into trouble, as seen on The Highlite Zone. Thankfully, The 12th Man features an assortment of vintage H&M tracks. "Wonderama" finds Eon's in his usual form, with his hit or miss lyrics. However, Mighty Mi saves the day with his crisp drums and mesmerizing vocal sample. On "Green Balloons", Eon rushes from one topic to the next, without ever laying the foundation for the track. Thankfully, Mighty Mi's mind melting guitar riffs make for a unique experience. Other gritty attempts featured on the album include, "This Babylon", "Damaged Goods", and "Crack The Egg".
Eon and Mighty Mi run into trouble on The 12th Man when they start to experiment with different production sounds, and try to come up with some conceptual material. This is seen on sleazy sex tales of "Unholy Matrimony", as the bland concept fails to impress. "Dumb" is another trifle attempt that takes digs at a variety of idiotic moves, from re-electing George Bush to trading away Shaquille O'Neal. On the flip side, Eon's remake of Krs-One's classic "Outta Here" is pulled off well, but suffers from one of Mighty Mi's poorest beats ever, as his quirky keys fail to provide an old school feel.
The 12th Man is an average release that has its share of hit or miss tracks. If High & Mighty is a group that has never interested you, then this album will do nothing to change that. But for diehard fans, the album has a couple of hidden gems worth hearing.