Mr. Eon and DJ Mighty Mi have contributed a lot to the underground Hip Hop scene the past couple of years. E.C. Records has been one of the predominant players in the independent scene due to a star studded lineup of emcees that consists of Cage, Tame One, Copywrite and of course The High & Mighty, amongst others. But unlike their talented counterparts, The High & Mighty have never really staked their claim in the underground market, as the group has always been overlooked and under appreciated. But what Mr. Eon & Mighty Mi have been able to do is provide outstanding production with solid song making ability that has transferred into two good albums, “Home Field Advantage” & “Air Force 1”. And while many critics are quick to point out the groups lack of talent behind the mic, the production aspect provided by Mighty Mi has kept each High & Mighty album above mediocrity. However, that was until now, as the production aspect, which is handled by Mighty Mi and a variety of outside producers, seems to have hit a roadblock, thus making the groups third venture “The Highlite Zone” their worst effort to date.
“The Highlite Zone” is a prime example of what happens when Mr. Eon does not receive the top-notch production he has in the past. Mr. Eon has never been a great emcee and that will never change. But with great production behind him, Eon has always been bearable. All of that has changed on the group’s third effort, as the production aspect of “The Highlite Zone” is easily the worst ever featured on an E.C. album.
Embarrassing efforts such as the rock influenced “Right Here”, the corny detective stories of “Dick Starbuck II”, the tedious beat boxing sounds of “Rock The House” featuring Rahzel and “Meldrick Taylor” featuring Tame One are some of the groups worst efforts in their short career. Outside producers Sebb & Camu Tao especially provide disappointing production efforts on the album with each of their respective tracks. Besides the lackluster production, the group has also hit their creative low as they are forced to drudge through such tiresome and boring topics as throw back jerseys “Take It Off”, fast food “Fast Food Nation” and actors trying to rap “How To Rob An Actor”. The album’s lead single “Take If Off” featuring Vast Aire is a horrible diss record towards Nelly, of all people, and anybody else who dares to wear a throwback jersey, as Erik & Milo claim they were the first people to ever wear such clothing. With a simplistic but annoying beat, Eon tries to throw jabs at everybody’s favorite pop emcee, but ends up just embarrassing himself instead. Why Eon is going at Nelly is still a mystery to everyone? Nevertheless, “Take It Off” is nothing but a weak attempt to gain some notoriety that the group certainly needs.
Another sub par effort comes from the sounds of “Fast Food Nation”, where Eon tries to provide “knowledge” and “insight” to the whole fast food phenomenon, but instead offers a boring and unnecessary snooze fest of a song. And if things couldn’t get any worse, The High & Mighty decided to let Michael Rappaport try and rap on “How To Rob An Actor”. After listening to such a horrific effort you will only be asking yourself one question, was this really necessary? Of course the track was intended to provide some comedy to the album, only the track isn’t funny, just embarrassing.
Other efforts on “The Highlite Zone” such as “Standing Room Only” featuring Cage, “Betcha Life” featuring RA The Rugged Man, “Wanna (But I Won’t)” & “High Heat” featuring Vast Aire are all solid tracks but offer nothing new to the same E.C. formula thrown together for every album. The album’s only true highlights come when the production aspect finally mirrors the sounds we all expected from efforts past. “Cheese Factory” featuring Copywrite & “Live From The Bullpen” featuring Cage & Tame One are both vintage E.C. material with hard hitting production and over the top battle influenced lyricism. “Bobblehead Night” is yet another magnificent effort as is “Incorporate Anthem”, which features a hypnotic, mysterious beat that provides a perfect atmosphere to zone out to. The track's production will truly take you to another place if you can somehow get past Eon’s usual ramblings behind the mic.
For those expecting yet another solid High & Mighty album, “The Highlite Zone” will be a huge disappointment and let down. Mr. Eon is an emcee who needs outstanding production to shine and when he doesn’t receive that, “The Highlite Zone” is what you get. Creativity is also a big issue for the group, as the same reused E.C. formula is getting tiresome, as seen through the past couple of releases from the once dominant record label. Maybe the company should cut down on outside producers for future albums and let Mighty Mi handle the majority as he has in albums past. Nevertheless, The High & Mighty are still capable of providing entertaining music, let’s just hope they can provide something more fresh the next time around.