Tuesday, August 18, 2009

In Case You Missed It...

This is one of many albums that you should definitely pick up if you missed it last year (check an earlier post for my whole listing of worthwhile albums in '08). Detroit's Elzhi, once (and still??) a member of Slum Village (a strangely mediocre group IMO) is simply one of the best MC's alive and rhyming today. This "debut" album entitled The Preface features several other notable Detroit MCs, but it's Elzhi himself who shines throughout this entire project. He seems to never run out of ill lines, and his concepts are original and well thought out. For example, check out the opening to "Guessing Game" and tell me you aren't curious to 'play'...

"Here we go (go) let's play the game (game)/ try to guess the word that I'ma use I'll explain (lain)/ I'ma end at each and every line just the same (same)/ you fill in the blank before I say it, that's the aim (aim)/...I welcome ya'll to the introduction/ to learn how to play here's the instructions/ a couple rules to show you how to gain function/ yo I'ma take a double, take a double syllable and split it down the middle so it's no longer even/ the first half stay the last half leavin'/ so now the end of the line sound deceivin'/ so figure out the word to match before I change the meanin'..."

What follows is an ingenious song idea that is perfectly executed with help from Black Milk's top-notch production, concentrating on what I tend to prefer in hip hop tracks, the drums. Black Milk, in fact, produces all but two tracks on The Preface...yet another reason to give it a listen (BM's solo effort "Tronic" is also one of the best albums of '08). The fun doesn't stop there though, as Elzhi proceeds to offer track after track of superior wordplay by anyone's standards. Few out today can match his talent.

If I had to, I might liken his style to Pontiac, MI's One Be Lo. However, if you've ever heard of One Be Lo, then you have probably heard this album already. The best thing about Elzhi is that he takes the time to come up with original material for his music. He's not satisfied with using the same old topics and trying to survive on punchlines alone (think Fabolous). On this album is an intricate journey through his dreams ("Talking in my Sleep"), an exploratory ode using nouns with names of colors in them ("Colors"), and many many more. And the whole thing isn't even concept-based. Elzhi's got tracks where he just rhymes about how nice he is too - only these songs prove it (see "Brag Swag" - fucking unbelievable). The best thing about The Preface is that it is interesting to the listener throughout. It's original. It's clever. It makes you think. And, it's dope in every way, start to finish.

Listen to Elzhi's album The Preface closely. Trust me, you will be amazed.

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