Argh, its been such a long time. Anticon fanboys will long have anticipated this much-delayed release, which in itself was responsible for the label's formation. For anyone unfamiliar with the super group of sorts, Sole, Slug, Alias and Dose-One hooked up in 1998 and recorded this album (or at least most of it) in a matter of days. They liked it so much that Sole, Dose and Alias moved down to the Bay Area and started the Anticon record label. Now it has been released to the general public to see if it lives up to expectations.
As Tha-Real's resident mindless Anticon jocker, you can guess my response. You can pretty much count on something here appealing to you, as most people who can't stomach Anticon's music add "except for that Slug dude." While the always enjoyable Sluggo holds it down with his normal (but masterfully executed) style, Sole pleases with his harsh, passionate delivery and Dose's mix of vivid imagery and unconventional vocal stylings keep you on the edge of your seat. Alias seems a bit out of his depth here, but it seems I'm in the minority holding this opinion.
These four distinct styles are best displayed on 'Heavy Ceiling,' one of four wonderful tracks provided by genius producer JEL. JEL's subtly mutating beat goes through the course of five and a half minutes where each emcee describes the end of his life (according to my weak interpretation at least*). The lyrical content is always spot on here, as from the water-based motif of 'Deep Puddle Theme Song' ("I never felt so alive as when I drowned") to the distress over incompetence expressed on 'Mothers of Invention' ("People've ruined what I've worked so very hard to preserve") all four emcees stick to their themes with admirable consistency.
Despite all of these experiments, there are songs which will appeal to all hip-hop listeners. 'I am Hip Hop (Move the Crowd)' is an ingenious narrative of a murder at a club, with each vocalist taking the role of someone at the scene (which is stolen by Dose's drunk at the bar). 'The Scarecrow Speaks' also seems to entertain lovers of straightforward music, as each emcee takes their turn to clearly and calmly speak on something which they hold dearly. 'The Candle,' another stupendous track, uses an excellent beat (Moodswing9's sole contribution) with four flawless verses using a candle/flame as a metaphor for life (though that's a very vague interpretation at best).
I probably cannot overstate how awesome I think this LP is. With the exception of 'Thought vs Action' and 'Where The Wild Things Are' (two good songs), every track on here is amazing. And to be fair, those two are growing on me as well. 'The Taste of Rain...Why Kneel' is a diverse, progressive, beautiful, complex, and many more kind adjectives as well. The things on here that irk me (Sole's first verse on 'Where The Wild Things Are,' Alias at his worst, the running commentary on 'The Scarecrow Song') are minor and yet those that excite me (the music, the emcees, the concepts) make up pretty much the whole thing. I'll let album's closing line sum it up "As a child I was afraid of the storm, but now I welcome the rain."
* - all of my descriptions of the songs are weak interpretations of the lyrics, in case you were wondering