Review Summary: Redefinition is by no means a requirement of evolution.
By now, the consonant "D" undoubtedly inspires euphoria in underground hip-hop heads: unemployment drives its stake deeper into the D daily, yet through this hardship and pain, therein lies true beauty and revolution. From the layman rhymes of Guilty Simpson's Ode To The Ghetto
, to the break-out release of Elzhi's The Preface
, and closing out the year in grand style with Black Milk's epic Tronic
... Detroit is the hip-hop epicenter of the millennium. If Waajeed and Saadiq's Platinum Pied Pipers project promises anything, it's that the D isn't done; Abundance
kicks off 2009 and the new regime with no ifs or maybes.
A solid cast of lyrically-conscious (yet accessible) R&B vocalists provides the initial catalyst for this neo-soul saga. St Louis repping Coultrain croons powerfully over most tracks here, not only proving quite the legitimate follow up to 2007’s Adventures of Seymour Liberty
, but stealing the show completely from the contributions of Jamila Raegan and (especially) Karma Stewart. While the ladies have their moments with impressive harmonizing under the lead, Stewart’s performance is ultimately suspect and only detracts while in the spotlight. Fortunately, Coultrain’s sense of urgency on “Ain’t No If’s Or Maybes” forgives these transgressions, merely whetting the appetite for the extraordinary (and possibly career-defining) “Ghost of Aveiro”.
While vocal performance is the mainstay of any soul, neo-soul, R&B, whatever buzz-word genre label is in effect currently, Waajeed and Saadiq’s compositions are the true nucleus of Abundance
. Their penchant for taking traditional soul song structures and infusing gritty, local-flavored beats is far and away the defining factor here. This is what truly escalates “Aveiro” to epic proportions – a salsa base, amplified with enough electronics, guitar, and ambience to proclaim dynamic brotherhood to post rock – there is so much beauty here, and it is arranged brilliantly. That said, Platinum Pied Pipers feed off of each respective piper admirably. Saadiq’s tasteful guitar licks bring on a heavy dose of non-excessive funk, while his keys form a foundation for any harmony; Waajeed uses these components advantageously, weaving horn blasts and solos throughout to make a thoroughly convincing sonic landscape.
Clearly, redefinition is by no means a requirement of evolution. Platinum Pied Pipers take what has been given to them by the previous generation and forge something completely innovative. Not only is this a pleasant surprise for January, Abundance
will (hopefully) be a harbinger of hip-hop to come.