RATING: 9/10 CHET BAKERS
On the first of each month, I have a ritual. I head over to Amazon's MP3 page and search for some music to get. I prefer Amazon over Itunes for the simple fact that it's got a huge number of releases at great prices, numerous sales, and often has new releases for anywhere from 3.99 to 7.99.
So I hit up Amazon and fill out my collection with a lot of albums I loved in the 90's that I lost over the years, knowing I can get the most bang for the buck there, as opposed to the steady pricing of itunes.
After picking up a copy of The Fugees classic "The Score", I noticed a recent release by a duo going by the name of "Malcolm and Martin". Now with monikers like that, I figure they better come correct. You can't take those names, and then come out with some weak music, or some typical gang banging drug slanging ramblings. With names like that, and a release during Black History Month, this has to be a project that doesn't do dishonor to those icons of the Civil Rights movmement and what those men represented, and still represent.
Knowing only they had a cosign by the excellent DJ Revolution, I snapped it up at a good price, and loaded it up on my Ipod. Now as I sit here listening to it, I can't stop my head from nodding at the beats, the scratching, the strong lyrical content, all of it is just astonishing in this day and age of subpar offerings.
To find a hip hop release that has something to say on a variety of topics that while geared towards the African American life and experiences, often touches on things that relate to everyone, such as the education system on the track "Lunchtyme Ciphers" which I kept repeating over and over, is not something that is in ample supply these days.
If I had to compare Malcolm & Martin to someone, I'd say there were elements of Talib Kweli and Mos Def with some equal parts Common and Kanye with some Dead Prez thrown in for good measure, however they also are able to stand on their own.
Revolution's turntablism is on point here, and he shows why he's a legend in the game. It's not often you find an album that's not only got that head nod aspect to it, and yet also has that substance that makes you think. That has style AND substance. Two items that are seen a lot in one or the other, yet rarely found together these days.
To single out any small handful of tracks as "standouts" would do a disservice to the album. There are no weak links here, folks. This is a bonafide classic album from start to finish. There is no filler, there are no "skippable" tracks.
The interludes are not overly long, as with many hip hop albums, and by the time you even know it the next track is getting your head rockin' again.
The samples that are used are highly creative, the scratching is out of this world, and I especially liked how they sprinkled in dialogue throughout the project from various movies and tv, such as Denzel's speech in Malcolm X introducing the track "Bamboozled", utilizing the famous lines, "Oh I say, and I say it again, ya been had! Ya been took! Ya been hoodwinked! Bamboozled! Led Astray! Run Amok!". And then there's the line from Spike Lee's "Do The Right Thing", in which the character Smiley talks about his pictures of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.
This project is a fantastic album and definitely has me interested in seeing how their career goes.
HIGHLIGHTS: The soulful and jazzy track "Win or Lose", The infectious "Welcome to the Movement", "Lunchtyme Cipher".