Atlanta, GA has been a major force in creative hip-hop. Outkast and Goodie Mob have always been considered Southern hip-hop but they are truly on another level from the typical Southern sound. Prophetix is the next generation of that creativity stemming from Atlanta. Prophetix consist of 2 emcees (Eddie Meeks & Mello Melanin) and one DJ/producer (Jon Doe). At first listen, they do not sound like Southern hip-hop. There's a mixture of Dilated Peoples with Jurassic 5 and a little bit of Gang Starr (due to the turntable wizardry). Even though that "backpacker" sound is there, the Southern vibe does leak through and their influences are definitely varied from all over this hip-hop nation. Eddie Meeks, the main emcee, is the one to look out for on the mic. Sure, both emcees are talented but Meeks' voice, cadence, charisma and lyrics automatically dig into the listener's mind. Jon Doe's beats are also soulful, creative and very interesting. From the "Intro" (produced by Jon Doe), it is evident that Prophetix are not typical hip-hop.
The best tracks are the ones that grab the listener with their first listen. "True Urban Grit (T.U.G.)" (produced by Jon Doe) is the first track and doen't feature a hook. The flute loop is mind-blowing. It's the flute loop, the driving mid-tempo drum track, and the chemistry of the emcees which make this such a slick track. "Crispus Attucks" (produced by Jon Doe) is a very cool story-telling tale about getting money and the rap game. Eddie Meeks and Mello go back and forth displaying that incredible chemistry which makes the song instantly appealing. "Quitters" (produced by Zo) also uses a dope flute loop and a cool MC Lyte vocal sample from "Paper Thin" for the hook. Even when the rhyme is not precise, Meeks still has a soulful rhythm and style that works. Stahhr Da F.E.M.C.E.E. makes a cool guest appearance on "Impressive Presentationals" (produced by Jon Doe), a very cool track (with an incredible vocal sample) that just flows with a hip style and grace. The track displays the talent & chemistry of these emcees. The flow on the hook is especially wicked. "Shatter" (produced by Untamed) features Scienz Of Life and is a very cool song that has a strong East coast sound to it. Eddie Meeks rocks the mic again: "Since all the urban music sold today is labeled hip-hop / It's hard for cats today to stray away from doing flip-flop…/…/…We don't want those aluminum chains / I'm setting stones in your brain for my man, Untamed…" The hook has a nice, mellow melancholy female vocalist singing "Fall in love / With hip-hop once again…" The East Coast hip-hop sound is also evident on the banging title track "High Risk" that has that droning warped orchestra sample loop over a banging beat. Other dope cuts include: "Who Is This?" (Produced by James Scienide), "Sumpthin's Gotta Give" (produced by MF Doom) and "Unstoppable" (produced by Asprin).
It's not all good though… There are some misses on this LP. "Gravitatin'" (produced by Jon Doe and Eddie Meeks) has a cool beat but Mello is the only emcee on this track about being single and dating females. As I listened to this track, I wanted Eddie Meeks involved. Mello's slightly high voice gets a little annoying sometimes. Some songs feel just a little too flaky or corny sounding for such an original LP and they bring down the myriad of cool and innovative styles. "Pie On Ya Face" (produced by AppleJac) and "We Do What We Do" (produced by Cheapshot) are perfect examples of this. The later talks about them "bouncing." A group as original and they are should not be making a song where the chorus talks about "When we bounce! A more creative track, "Guestlist" (produced by J-Nastee) stands out towards the end but doesn't close the album well. The song is about the drama that goes along with trying to get into clubs. The beat and energy is cool but it should not have been the LP's closing track.
Overall, Prophetix have a strong love for hip-hop and it is evident in their debut LP "High Risk." Even though some songs are far superior than others, all of the beats range from cool to incredible. There is not one poor or wack beat on this album. The only problem is that the hooks weaken the last couple of songs. Also, Mello's voice (anything but mellow) is always at the same pitch. Sure, he's a talented lyricist and he flows well but like Guru said, "It's mostly the voice." Jon Doe is a very talented producer. On the mic, Eddie Meeks (whose voice somewhat reminds me of Del The Funky Homosapian) steals the album. Even though Mello's lyrics and delivery are all good, his voice does not have the same strength as Meeks.
"High Risk" is not just an innovative and original Southern hip-hop album. Some may mistake it for West Coast or even an East Group hip-hop. Prophetix uses their many influences to bring all parts of the hip-hop nation together. They truly can rock a mic in any style. Their love and respect for the art form shines through. Prophetix have the potential to be huge in the music industry. If they continue to do things this way, they may just be one of the most respected groups in hip-hop. Let's just hope they continue to release LPs their way. While purchasing hip-hop LPs these days is a high risk, the Prophetix debut album is guaranteed to satisfy lovers of that B-boy underground hip-hop.