After making a big break in hip-hop with their Gotee Records debut The End is Now, MC's Joey the Jerk, Flynn, Cookbook, Sharlok Poems, and UNO Mass, collectively known as LA Symphony, are back once again with more in-your-face rhymes and street preaching with their newest offering Disappear Here.
This time around, the group has relied on the production talent of Evidence (Dilated Peoples) and had their beats clevery mixed by the Beat Junkies' own DJ Rhetmatic. This album basically picks up where The End is Now left off with fresh beats and hooks that should get any hip-hop fan dancin' and head bobbin'.
Every member has a unique voice and style of rhyming and make every track sound like a block party with multiple artists. The lyrics are straight-forward and to the point. One example of this is Sharlok Poems' call out to the shameful in "Dance Like," by saying "It aint' what it was they don't dance they shoot, it aint about the heart it's about the loot, playing gangsta in the booth talking ice and guns, 16 tracks of this, all ya'll sound dumb." The piano-driven "Hold On" encourages street thugs to turn from their way of living because of having to witness the murder of one of their best friends. DJ scratches and smooth representation is what is covered in the album's first single "Timeless," and serves as the group's mission statement and proclaimed purpose for what they do. The musical arrangements possess plenty of staying power and diversity; a carribean-style guitar is thrown into the song "C'est La Vie," while an old school funk backdrop found throughout "Put Up or Shut Up" may remind the listener of popular 70's groups like Parliament and Wildcherry.
A couple of other prolific tracks are the mid-tempo vibe of "Give," which is all about the fact that Christians should always consider others better than themselves, and LA Symphony's personal tribute to role model father figures in the melodic "Pop's Song." Even though it doesn't appear until nearly the end of the album, the slow jam "Rise" is an excellent song about rising above emotional pain and struggle and putting hope in tomorrow through the love of the Father. The album closes out with "Don't Call Me," which is a funny, uptempo number that have the emcees led by Cookbook doing what sounds like a freestlye about their history as a group. The one factor that I felt was missing from this project was that the vocal stylings from only one of the emcees throughout the duration of an individual song was nowhere to be found. Regardless, not accomplishing this feat separates LA Symphony from copying the same method that the Cross Movement exhibited in their previous two efforts.
As with most high profile hip-hop albums, Disappear Here has a couple of tracks that are a little rough around the edges, but contain several highlights that outweigh those same minor flaws. LA Symphony may not be the picture perfect rap group, but given the notion that they don't water down their faith and pull no punches in their messages make this quintet a constant mainstay in the world of modern music. This multi-ethnic group shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon; they are definitely worth a listen, even those who aren't into Gospel hip-hop.- Review date: 10/1/05, written by Paul Portell
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