The day Mars opens a ‘hood, expect Outerspace to be the first in line for a duplex. Outerspace, the Philly duo and Jedi Mind Tricks protégés Planetary and Crypt, attack their debut full-length album “Blood and Ashes” with a keen familiarity to the way a record should work. While their name and presentation of material may appear gimmicky and tacky to the deaf ear, their hardcore and passionate displays on the microphone are anything but, as the pair cruise through space and back with an immeasurable hunger and cooperative camaraderie that guides “Blood and Ashes” through an out-of-this-world fresh stab at record-making.
As good as the Outerspace duo come across, make no mistakes about it; Planetary and Crypt are a testament to a strong underground backing from the likes of Vinnie Paz (of Jedi Mind Tricks), 7L & Esoteric, Celph Titled, and Panik (of the Molemen crew). Boston beat-maker Beyonder’s production effort on the album’s leading track, “Brute Force,” determines the tone for the entire record as his spacey choice of a beat compliments Crypt rapping, “I got two sons, a wife, and a whip, And I’ma never go broke ‘cause that’s some trifling sh*t.” The Philly twosome quickly devise a spaced-aged methodology of beat selection mashed together with seamless interaction on the microphone without the creepy intergalactic rhyme-chatter of others that have attempted this formula (i.e. Canibus).
Another Bostonian 7L demonstrates his clear ability to step up to the challenge as well, as in all 3 of his contributions to the album, “Fire and Ice,” “It Is What It Is,” and “Far Greater” (featuring Esoteric), 7L steadfastly sticks to the format of “outerspace” with spaced-out primary beats backed by elements of hip-hop, sampling, and scratches. The efforts come off as unforced and naturally delightful as Outerspace dabbles over the 7L production with amply hungry and ferocious lyrics.
Similar to 7L, Molemen head producer Panik graces the group with a pair of astronomical efforts that defy the common techniques of worldly beat creations. “Raw Deal,” where the group reiterates Record Industry rule number 4080 (“records execs are mad shady, for gravy”) and talks about all the raw deals a person can catch, and “Blades of Glory” (featuring Vinnie Paz), which encompasses Outerspace’s coming-of-age mentality, both display Panik’s ability to create the proper environment for the duo (check the perfectly placed sped-up sampled on the latter track).
Outerspace is truly at their best though on the final track of the album, “Angels of Death,” which employs a Shuko-produced beat featuring everything from heavy doses of bass to an upbeat chorus in the background, as the Philly emcees trade surprisingly meaningful verses only to be joined by the always-knowledgeable Immortal Technique for the final verse of the album. The track not only underwrites the abilities and freshness of Outerspace, it will literally leave listeners clamoring for more from the deep-space-nine duo.
Inevitably, not everything launches correctly for Outerspace the first time around, as besides “Intro,” none of the other skits on the album seem necessary or along the same thoughts as the songs that surround and overlap them. “Gods and Generals,” formatted with a loopy beat that grows tedious and scratching that just strikes too hard, also misses striking the right chords on this planet. And, by comparison to others, “Chapter of Thunder,” despite its fiery lyrics, sounds unoriginal and not much different than other braggadocios hip-hop records with melody-driven smack-talking choruses (and the lack of the spacey sound doesn’t help much either).
Outerspace’s “Blood and Ashes,” even with its somewhat weird and oddball-sounding “outerspace” gimmick actually fulfills a niche in the underground quite successfully with an aggressive album full of lyrics set against the back-drop of some of the primetime players in the underground world of hip-hop. The adaptations of several producers, namely 7L and Panik, to the musical styles of Planetary and Crypt blend beautifully in a creative showcase of hard work and talent from the two “brothers from another mother.” When Mars does open up, expect Outerspace to be the first to go. But, for now, their “Blood and Ashes” disc deserves the attention and ear of Earth….