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JFH Music Review


Mars Ill, Black Listed Sessions
Mars Ill
Black Listed Sessions



Artist Info: Discography
Album length: 2 Discs, 16 tracks
Street Date: December 18, 2008


Atlanta, GA, hip hop duo Mars ILL hardly ever takes a break. They only have three albums on a major label, but they also have lots of other independent releases and several re-releases. 2002 saw the release of their indie label seven-song EP The Blue Collar Sessions. As a way to get these songs out to fans who may never have heard them, the guys are putting them out again, indie style once more. They also included "Shuck and Jive" from their Sound Methods 2.0 album.

Now, for those of you who already have The Blue Collar Sessions, don't worry. This isn't just a simple re-release. Aside from the inclusion of "Shuck and Jive," there are two differences. The first difference is that all the songs have new beats behind them. The second difference is that all the songs have new beats behind them. What? Yes, each song was redone two times for The Black Listed Sessions, giving the listeners two EPs of semi-new material (the two discs are completely unlabeled, so let's call them A and B, respectively). Now, I've never heard the originals, so I can't make any comparisons to those. I can only tell you how these remixes sound.

Now, of course, the production is pretty much flawless. It's Mars ILL. The sound is incredible, and the beats are true Dust style. For the most part, the B tracks have the better beats. The only exceptions would be the A "2 Steps" (it has the better beat, but you can hear the vocals better on the B version), and "The Siren Song" and "Shuck and Jive," whose beats are about equal between A and B. But, regardless of which version of the songs has the better music, all the tracks are still some of the best in hip hop. It's also kinda nice to reminisce on the older school vocals from manCHILD. Though Raw Material wasn't quite as good as their follow-up Backbreakanomics, the original Blue Collar Sessions were recorded in a period of transition for the emcee. So it's got a lot of the Raw Material vibe, but also the slightly-more-mature style displayed in Backbreakanomics. And it's still got plenty of sick flows and messages that make you think about your life and about God.

The only bad thing is that, well, even with these new fantastic beats, the fact remains the same that, technically, these are nothing more than just remix albums. I always thought TobyMac was really bad about that, but when you go through the list of releases from TobyMac and then you go through the list from Mars ILL, you see that Mars ILL has more remix albums (TobyMac has two; these two EPs account for Mars ILL's fourth and fifth). Dust can make a new beat with the blink of an eye, so it's not like he's having to use them sparingly, but I think it would be a nicer gift to the listeners to use those new beats for some brand new songs altogether. Granted, Pro*Pain was a brilliant album, and it's still played on our iPods like mad, but I think the fans are getting anxious to hear how the guys can (and most likely will) top themselves.

- Review date: 1/8/09, written by Scott Fryberger of Jesusfreakhideout.com



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. Record Label: None
. Album length: 2 Discs, 16 tracks
. Street Date: December 18, 2008
. Buy It: MarsIll.com

    Disc One (A)
  1. Intro (1:19)
  2. Live From Atlantis (4:42)
  3. 2 Steps (5:05)
  4. Redefine (3:42)
  5. The Siren Song (5:06)
  6. My Coloring Book (3:52)
  7. Badlands (5:56)
  8. Shuck and Jive (5:33)
    Disc Two (B)
  1. Intro (1:15)
  2. Live From Atlantis (4:17)
  3. 2 Steps (by Beat Rabbi) (4:44)
  4. Redefine (4:16)
  5. The Siren Song (4:16)
  6. My Coloring Book (3:52)
  7. Badlands (by Beat Rabbi) (6:05)
  8. Shuck and Jive (5:51)
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