Ventilation can be defined as "The act of sifting, and bringing out to view or examination; free discussion; public exposure". Its 2 years after one of the greatest groups in Hip Hop History split and its about time for Phife to Ventilate in this artform we call Hip Hop. Comparisons are gonna made with Q-Tips ‘Amplified’ even though these are 2 very different emcees with 2 very different attitudes and styles so its really time you all gave that up and give Phife a fair hearing to see if he can cut it on his own.
The first official single ‘Flawless’ opens the album and is a good start cos it addresses Phifes thoughts on everything from Q-Tip to Jive and gets them outta the way. This Hi-tek produced track takes stabs at Kamal not only through its lyrics but also in production by mimicking ‘Breathe & Stop’ (And I also saw him pissing on the style in his new video). Hi-Tek also comes through for the great ‘D.R.U.G.S’ and his trademarked ‘Alphabet Soup’ providing an almost Quest-like backdrop for Mutty Ranks to sound like he’s right back where he belongs.
As well as DJ Hi Tek , Pete Rock, Jay-Dee, Supa Dave West, Fred Wreck & Rik Rock all contribute to the album and bar Pete Rock with ‘Lemme find out’ bring consistent tracks to the table. It disappoints me that Pete Rock could be so lazy on this cut and I gotta be honest his production is slipping in real consistency lately. But then again PR handles one of the best cuts on the album, ‘Melody Adonis’ both lyrically and production wise this is a track to indulge in as Phife takes a bow to the ladies in his life that supported him. Phife also does some reflecting in the autobiographical ‘Beats, Rhymes & Phife’, this isn’t some melancholy take on his hardship in life rather a more uplifting feel to his background as he looks back fondly.
This album is short, only 11 real tracks plus Intro and Outro but it still has its downfalls like in the previously mentioned ‘Lemme find out’ and the title track. Luckily these tracks don’t bring the album down that much and ruin the set, if it also included ‘Just when you thought you wuz nice’ then it could have compensated. Phife can hold his own but sometimes your wishing that guy with the high-pitched voice would join him on a verse or two.
Maybe in 2004 Q-Tip, Phife and Ali Shaheed will do an EPMD and reunite to prove the world that after going off to do their own thing makes them stronger as a team, until then we can just enjoy what each of them has to offer until that day. So pick up ‘Ventilation’, it may not be the years best but it’s a great honest album from an emcee who still wants to bring you the real hip-hop.