Motion Man is a true emcee in the classic sense of the word. This man is a non-stop rhyming machine. Like his name, I bet rhymes are constantly moving through his head. He is the perpetual rapper. I first heard him on the Dr. Dooom LP (which is one of many alter-egos of Kool Keith). Motion is a part of Noggin Nodders, a hip-hop group made up of…. Himself. He does all the voices. “Clifton” from Kool Keith’s “Black Elvis” LP was nothing short of hilarious. Then, Kool Keith and Motion Man teamed up with Kutmasta Kurt to make the special collaboration project album “Masters Of Illusion”, an amazing LP filled with a variety of rhyme styles and hard-hitting, deeply funky beats that had tons of scratching. Now, Motion Man teamed up with Kutmasta Kurt again to make his debut solo album. “Clearing The Field” is a 23 track long opus that has many West Coast guests and a variety of wild styles, themes and grooves. It truly seems like this man cannot stop rhyming.
Inspired by the action figures from the 70’s and 80’s, “Clearing The Field” has artwork and an intro (and an outro) that sells Motion as a hip-hop action figure. The “intro” is hilarious because you can make Motion man “Smack a b*tch up” and even “jazzercize”! It is astute and creative hip-hop with sharp wit.
There are many songs on “Clearing The Field” that instantly hit your heart, make you smile, and nod your head. The opening track “Straight Flowin’ On Em” is simply incredible. Kurt’s pimped-out beat grooves along with a thick 70’s mack vibe. It’s perfect. The first single, “Come On Ya’ll” has a dope up-tempo old-school beat along with 80’s flows and deliveries by Motion and old school scratched samples by Kurt. In the spirit of Masters Of Illusion’s “Bronx Bridge/Bay Bridge” track, the old school beat and flow are extremely tight and nostalgic. Motion’s flow and lyrics are so on-point and funny at the same time that you have give him props: “…Pass the microphone and mind ya bizniss / Dizziness vision is blurred like an alcoholic / Like a baby with colic / Rappers whine I call it like a referee / Stripped up blowing a whistle / Take a technical foul / It’s flagrant for them / Moon y’all boring / See my booty-hole? / I gotta pass the gas at the mass / The ass is tired / At last of all y’all new cast / Clown chumps they break fast / I’m kicking the chump ass / the champion wrecks and leaves them whip lashed…” Kutmasta Kurt’s production and scratching are both energetic and filled with a deep funk. The guitar sample and the old school samples for the hook work perfectly. At the end, the song changes and Motion rocks the mic with a grace and ease. “Loose Cannon” is another pounding track with hard drums and crazy deliveries by Motion. The weird and wild melody sampled by Kurt complements the pounding drums in an amazing way. Motion handles the hook with an intense and fun-filled energy. “We Work Styles” features Kool Keith and L.C. This track is dope. For the hook, Motion chants half of it and then, Kurt comes in with a great Phife Dawg vocal sample (“Styles upon styles upon styles is what I have!”). Kurt’s mid-tempo beat rocks along. Kool Keith also does and excellent job. “Face 2 Face” featuring Planet Asia is a strong, sinister modern hip-hop track that hits very hard. Asia and Motion work well together. They go line for line on the hook. It’s a hard-hitting song with wonderful chemistry. Motion cracks me up when he goes: “Bueller? Bueller?”. Another collaboration that is overflowing with good chemistry is “Hold Up” featuring Biz Markie. These two were made to rock a track together. Of course, they sing the hook: “Hold up! We done did it! Hold Up! Wait a minute!” Biz and Motion work so well together that I cannot wait to hear another collaboration by them. They both have an up-beat and very humorous style. Another energetic track is “Winner Takes All (Knockout Kings)”. This battle track has energetic flows and lyrics by Motion and a dancing boxing match feel in Kurt’s production. It’s great workout music. The chopped up horn sample in Kurt’s beat adds a nice bounce quality to the track. Motion Man has a love for Bay Area rappers and one of his favorite rappers is Too Short. “Beoches” is a tribute to Too Short, and he should be proud. The slow electronic beat sounds like something from one of Too Short’s early albums. On this track, Motion brings out his alter ego Clifton Santiago. On the mic, he gets just as raunchy as Too Short: “…I met this b*tch the other day / She used to lick up on my *ss like every day / She’d lick my *ss up and down / Like her tongue was Charmin the toilet paper (paper) / And every time she tossed my salad, my *sshole would get more chaffer (chaffer)…” On the hook, Kurt using an old Too Short (or it could be Snoop Dogg) saying “Beotch!”. Then, Motion chants his old school misogynistic hook. Still, as raunchy and sexist the song is, he is giving props to the legendary Too Short and a classic style of hip-hop. A couple of other very nice tracks include the title track “Clearing The Field”, “Reason To Panic” featuring E-40, and “Play Dough” which features a great Guru vocal sample. (“Got to get the dough / Got to run the show.”) Overall, there are plenty of excellent tracks on this album filled with thick, dope beats, intense and respectful hip-hop scratching, and wild lyrics and flows.
There are a couple of very funny songs have a very weird quality to them. First, “I Need A Vacation” features Noggin Nodders is a funny track where the humor is more in the verses than the actual hook. Like “Clifton” from “Black Elvis” LP, the final verse is hilarious: “…I’m mad at my situation / And my occupation / Picking up cans don’t pay…” Another interesting but odd track is “Having A Moment” where Motion tells of a time where he doesn’t want to be bothered. The hidden track “Come Hack This” is a silly tale of computer hacking. What is original and creative about this track is that Motion uses computer hacking as a metaphor for battling emcees. “Come hack this!!!” he claims, eager for someone to battle him. The lyrics about how much his computer is souped up are not only funny but imaginative as well.
With 23 tracks on the album, the LP is bound to have filler. “Clearing The Field” certainly does have its share. “Call The National Guard 2” is an unnecessary sequel to the decent original version. “Trounce” is a traveling anthem with a thick West Coast feel. Motion raps the hook: “I trounce! Riding through the hood! I trounce!”. Although his charisma and personality comes through on the song, it ultimately becomes filler. “Make It, Sell It, Recoup” is about the record industry and “sissy rappers”. Once again, the joke is funny and Motion does his job (along with Kurt) but the track just weighs down the LP. “Side Ta Side” is another track that is enjoyable but it becomes redundant. This is where certain parts of the LP sound the same.
For his debut solo LP, Motion Man came correct. Even though some of the filler songs make the LP sound repetitious in parts, there is a good amount of variety on here to give the album a diverse feel and give the LP a high replay value. Songs like “Straight Flowin On Em”, “Come On Y’all” and “Loose Cannon” are so perfect and so tight that fans will want to play them over and over again. Unfortunately, many of the filler tracks will be skipped though. If you are a fan of Kool Keith and Masters Of Illusion, this should be a definite purchase. While some may think that Motion Man and Kool Keith share a similar formula to their song structure, Motion Man’s hooks are much more complicated while Kool Keith would just rap the song’s title. Motion’s hooks have melodies and changes. Unfortunately, I think Kutmasta Kurt is an integral part of this album’s success. Sure, Motion Man’s lyrics are insane and his flows are crazy but he has yet to prove himself over someone else’s production. Why should he? If it isn’t broke, why fix it? Kurt and Motion make an excellent team (just like Motion and Kool Keith make an excellent team). Motion Man and Kurt complement each other well because they both can work different styles, they both have an intense passion for true old school hip-hop, and they both are not scared to take chances with their creativity. Even though “Clearing The Field” is very much a West Coast album, this East Coast hip-hop lover respects and enjoys this LP often. Some people may get annoyed or put off by Motion Man’s high-pitched voice. (I never get sick of hearing Sadat X but some other people do.) Keep in mind, Motion Man does change up his vocal tone in many songs even though most of the tracks he has his signature cartoon-like voice. As an emcee, Motion Man literally clears the field by making an album filled with many types of hip-hop songs. There is an old school Too Short pimp tracks (“Beotches”). There is an old school fast rapping track (“Come On Y’all). There is a smooth, smoked out mack track (“Straight Flowin On Em”). There are also more modern battle tracks (“Winner Takes All”) and weird concept tracks (“Come Hack This”). There is something for everybody and this good little chunk of diversity not only makes the very long album flow but also gives it a high replay value. Motion Man is a funny, charismatic emcee with some bizarre and intense lyrics. Many people may pass his lyrics off as jokes and not truly try to interpret them. Those people are missing out. Fans of Kutmasta Kurt and Masters Of Illusion will love this album. The production is all well executed and Motion’s styles and lyrics are too. The listener can feel that these people love hip-hop. They have a lot of fun recording this LP and it shows. Overall, “Clearing The Field” by Motion Man is a very thick album filled with hard-hitting beats, precise scratching, a fun vibe, and crazy flows and lyrics.