Main Flow first stormed onto the scene as one third of the Cincinnati, Ohio super group Mood. Along with DJ Hi-Tek and Donte Fleming, the crew released their debut album "Doom" in 1997. From there the rest is history. Hi-Tek went on to superstardom through his work with Mos Def, Talib Kweli and Snoop Dogg, opening the gate for not only Main Flow but also everyone else in the Natti. Even though Hi-Tek helped propel the underground buzz for Main Flow, the veteran wordsmith is no tag along emcee. Flow is out to prove with his debut album "Hip Hopulation", that he is a great emcee in his own right, with or without Hi-Tek.
Even though Main Flow is a gifted emcee, his debut release fails to live up to the hype. The album suffers from a variety of setbacks, including weak production, bland concepts and an overload of guest appearances. Almost every track is featuring a guest, which makes it hard to fully grasp who Main Flow is as a person.
Even though "Hip Hopulation" is cluttered with too many guests, the main problem plaguing the album is sub par production and boring concepts. Main Flow reunites with Dante of Mood and Black Thought of The Roots for what would seem like a "Classic" track, however, DJ Vin-Roc's dull production is enough to put anyone to sleep. On "Worldwide", Flow hooks up with P Killer and one of the west coast's most underrated emcees Defari. But once again, poor beat selection ruins the track. Da Riffs happy go lucky synthesizer production fails to match the gritty intensity of all three emcees.
Besides lackluster beats, "Hip Hopulation" also suffers from uninspired concepts. "Toys, Games" finds Flow cleverly throwing in the names of various toys and games into his rhymes, however, the concept is not very interesting and Flow would have been better off using the same concept for another topic. "She Likes Me" is another effort that sounds good on paper but fails to be pulled off successfully. Flow's predictable tales of money hungry woman is a concept that has been beaten into the ground by now. Not to mention the track's hook, which is extremely poor.
"Hip Hopulation" is certainly filled with its share of mistakes, but not all is lost. When Flow gathers the right assortment of producers is when we get the album's best efforts. The lead single "Loving The Game" finds Flow vibing perfectly with Planet Asia over Reason's rock solid production. The underground classic "Hip Hop Worth Dying For" also makes it way onto the album, and is easily one of Flows finest songs. Even though the track has been floating around for a while now, it remains a classic Main Flow & Talib Kweli collaboration. On the battle tip, "Delivery Tactics" featuring Mikah 9 and "Street Pay" featuring 7L & Esoteric are both hard as nails efforts that personify Main Flow's hardcore edge. "Never Imagined" featuring Killah Priest & Masta Foul and "Seen It All" featuring GLK are more dope collaborations that succeed duo to solid production.
With an abundant amount of guests and producers, "Hip Hopulation" is an erratic effort from Main Flow that never really forms an identity of its own. Next time around Main Flow needs to cut down on the guest appearances and prove he can handle an entire album himself. There is no denying Flow's skills on the mic, however, it takes more than dope lyrics to make a successful album, and unfortunately, Main Flow will have to find that out the hard way.