Almost a year’s worth of impossibly high expectations has been met and exceeded. Simply put, this is a great album. You need to hear it.
You can stream the whole thing below, and underneath that you can find some bonuses: a song that didn’t make the album, a video for Relaxin’, plus a few rambling subjective thoughts about the album from yours truly.
G-Side – Bass!! ft. Freddie Gibbs and Stevie Joe (via dirtyglovebastard)
This song was originally included on the album as track 11, then left off. Honestly, as much as I like the song, the omission might have been a blessing in disguise. ‘Never’ and ‘Bass!!’ did make for a striking 1-2 nod to the more aggressive side of the SMS sound, but Gibbs’ cameo felt a bit like perfunctory stunt casting and his verse didn’t really stand out (in fact it almost got lost in the mix). So instead you have ‘No Radio’, a family affair featuring DB49’er Bentley and frequent SMS collaborator DJ Burn One, which makes for a great bridge between the assault of ‘Never’ and the softer wistfulness of ‘How Far’. The album is better for it and you still get ‘Bass!!’ anyway, so ultimately everyone wins.
Some loose very subjective and occasionally borderline smitten thoughts on The ONE… COHESIVE album:
– Often when you anticipate something for an extended period of time you build up a certain fantastical expectation that reality simply can’t meet. Luckily, that’s not the case here – the album is not just as good as expected, in some ways it’s actually better. There’s no prognosticating for moments as perfect as the transition from the orchestral warm-up and the conductor’s cough at the end of ‘Shots Fired’ into the opening strains of ‘Came Up’. And it’s exactly these moments that make the album what it is.
– This truly is an album, not just a collection of good songs. It’s a cohesive (pun fully intended) and singular artist statement, with individual parts working towards a greater whole, and it needs to be heard and considered in full to be truly appreciated. The hard work of the past 10 years, the celebration of current successes, the anticipation of the future, everything that these guys are really about, it’s all here. The production plays a huge role in shaping this entity, on this album it’s more than just a musical backdrop, it’s an extension of the overall philosophy that the album espouses.
– To follow from the previous point, all praises due to Block Beattaz. In of itself, their ability to bend the primal forces of bass-driven music to their own ethereal purposes is mildly astounding. And while several other producers made very worthy contributions, it’s the arrangement and banding of it all by CP and Mali that makes the album come together so well. Those brilliant moments I alluded to above belong to them.
– The reveling, literally BIG sound of this album feels like continuation of Starshipz and Rockets, especially since both rely heavily on appropriation and mutation of dance music as a foundation. Yet the more personal moments where the celebration of the present and future is tempered with self doubt and uncertainty recall the more intimate nature of Huntsville International. The points at which these two extremes intersect are where The ONE becomes a true culmination of G-Side’s previous efforts.
– Both ST and Clova perform very admirably, their dynamic works as well here as it ever has. However I feel like Clova deserves a special note. I’ve mentioned before that he is unjustly underrated, check out his verses on Nat Geo and Inner Circle to see why. His normally laid back style is made more assertive here, and it pays off well.
– In general, there is a whole whole lot more to be said about the rapping on here from both the G-Side members and their guests. However I’m honestly just not ready to say it yet, there’s way to much to absorb. For now it will suffice to say that ST’s “you can see what god made and you can see what man made” is one of my most favorite lyrics in a very long time, and that barely scratches the surface of what we get. Also, it feels a little weird for the last verse of the album to be a guest feature, but Jhi Ali’s serves as a Greek chorus in echoing a lot of the sentiments previously expressed throughout the album, and so it fits.
– Personally speaking, Chris Lee’s contributions are not exactly to my taste. He is undoubtedly a talented guy, but his music is just not my thing. With that said, his inclusion makes sense in the context of how it came about (described in detail here.) The fact that the Block Beattaz can make his cameos on The ONE palpable to me is another testament to their talents.
– Finally, the artwork…. I can’t offer anything even approaching an objective opinion here, since most of it was literally created in the general area of my living room by one of my closest friends. However, in watching it all come together it occurred to me that I have never before witnessed or even heard of album art work become so intimately entwined with the process of creating the music itself (the one exception being the collaboration between Pink Floyd and Storm Thorgerson). The art truly became as much a part of the album as the rapping and the production and Codie’s narration. John Turner worked to create visuals that look like SMS music sounds, while SMS strived to make music that sounded like John’s pictures looked. The best thing I can say is that both succeeded.
VIDEO: G-Side – Relaxin’ ft GMane
New luxuriously appointed visuals for Relaxin’, which we featured as an exclusive download a few weeks ago.