Grand Agent is an emcee who first struck my listening landscape with his 12" 'Every Five Minutes.' The funky beat, and suave flow meshed well together, and, the simplistic hook actually worked.
'By Design' doesn't kick off exceptionally. The first real track; 'From The Gate' features a fairly bland beat and some less than amazing rhymes. Unfortunately, the majority of the first half of this album continues along the same vibe, regardless of the guests. The only true exception to that is 'The Man Who Could Be King.' The hook for the Christmas Carol "Joy To The World..." is flipped with "B-Boy to the world" being placed instead. A simple, but effective beat, perfect for Grand Agent sits beneath him and the hook manages to take the track to a much better level of quality.
Unfortunately, it was not until over half way into the album, that I found myself truly enjoying G.A.'s material. 'Know The Legend' featuring and produced by Lord Finesse is a slick tale talking about people bragging about being legendary without doing much. 'You Don't Love Me' is another example of one of the better aspects of the album. The alternating beat works, and the sampled hook plus the rhymes combine nicely.
The two tracks before the last are the album's best. 'It's Only Right' with Planet Asia and 'Waughter' proved that this album has some gems. Asia shines over the Hi-Tek beat, and G.A. does a nice job too. But, G.A.'s finest moment is on the very somber 'Waughter.' The sung hook works perfectly and Agent's typical fairly un-enthusiastic flow just fits the vibe perfectly.
The problem with Grand Agent's 'By Design' album is the fact that he only works well over certain beats. When those beats are beneath him, great tracks are created, but a little too frequently, that isn't the case. This is a nice debut album, but not what you'd be likely to define as a "classic."