I've had some sort of personal 'watch out for' mentality for the Lootpack ever since I first heard them on the opener to tha Alkaholiks 1994 album 'Coast II Coast' with the track 'WLIX'. Its been 5 years and I've kept my eye and ears open for new material all the time. We've had the various 12", the 'Psyche Move' EP and now the full Length LP is with us thanks to Peanut Butter Wolf and his Stones Throw Label (Groove attack in Europe). At 24 tracks deep it took me a week or so to get into and break down this album but they prove that you don't have to rely on filler to hold it down for 74 minutes. The trio have breathed new life into the B Boy in all of us and are ready to exterminate the wack emcee.
What struck me at first listen is that this album is constructed in a way that keeps you listening from beginning to end, don't even think of reaching for the skip button here or you'll truly miss out. Madlib, DJ Romes and Wildchild jump back and forth from the laid back jazzy freestyle sound similar to a low-end theory ATCQ then to a manic Alkaholiks type attack within a matter of seconds. Although I used 2 groups to describe their sound,
don't think they are in anyway a clone of either.
The album opens almost laid back with the previously released 'Questions' acting as a nice introduction to these 3 b boys devoted to furthering the art form. 'Long awaited' sees the LP going toe to toe with Dilated Peoples and this is where shit starts to snowball. 'B-Boy theme' acts as a great upbeat transition into 'Wheniondamic', the current single which is so fucking great I can't stop listening to it months on from its release. 'Crate diggin' is
dedicated to the classic form of beat findin that DITC and Pete Rock have all used to bless us with treats and taking a tip they break down what it means to them. 'I got CD's in my crates like crack in my pocket/ yeah right, neither of the above' may just show you how serious they are about that dusty vinyl.
Madlibs beats and loops are nothing short of amazing, he flips it in many styles and if you need any more evidence check 'Law of physics' for some real ILL shit. Add to the this the amount of little interesting soundbites of loops and dialogue and you know this kid is gonna take over. 'New years resolution' is also included here and for just under 3 minutes you get pure pleasure, you'd swear that Wildchild doesn't talk when off the mic but he just constantly flows his words. The likwit connection continues on 'Likwit
fusion' with the liks and defari which delivers a verse from Tash that has me left with real high expectations for his solo album. Gods Gift take to the mic with Wildchild for 'Verbal experiments' which is blessed with a minimal beat and the same chants of 'Uh, oh, C'mon' that we last heard on Black Sheeps 'The choice is yours' believe me this track is real interesting no matter how stripped down it is. 'Weededed' also takes a different twist on the blunted freestyle ethics, Wildchild tells us simply why he don't need the weed to bust a tight verse and he makes a lot of sense.
If you've peeped the vid for 'Whenimondamic' you will already have seen '20 questions' as the intro and it appears here with Quasimoto and shows that not only is Madlib a great beatmaker he's nice on the mic too. Things draw to a close with the awesome 'Wanna test' with Medaphoar, a dramatic loop and pianos keys last heard on 'Shootouts' by Nas act as a great background to the lyrics laced on the track. The 'Times up' sample also adds a great effect as the track exits. This is where the album tails off for the last coupla tracks
to bring the whole thing to an end with the 9 minutes of beat switching on 'Episodes'.
Flaws only appear in the monotony of one or 2 tracks and the fact some very ill tracks are too short but no 2 tracks sound alike, the groups original goal. What also brought the album down from being a complete classic is the choice of hooks, Wildchild seems to have a one dimensional approach when doing 'em. His voice takes on the same tone and rhythm so if you heard him flow on one hook you heard the next but in the end this isn't important, the lyrics and beats are.
Very rarely do we see a group of this nature with high quality emcees, producer and deejay (Romes can cut shit up like the best of em) but the Lootpack have all of that and more to bring to the table. 'Soundpieces' is truly an album that lives up to his name, you'll be out of breath trying to catch up.