Review Summary: Not nearly as dark as other great hip-hop groups, 'Honest Racket' still delivers a lot of topics from an already mature faction from Oregon.
The first thing to notice on Sandpeople’s ‘Honest Racket’ is the concise, short bass trips throughout and fantastic production that surrounds most of this album. Sandpeople aren’t just a duo or trio, it’s actually a collective group of Portland, Oregon artists who only recently started working together. Boasting a 12 member lineup that not only have released 3 albums in the short amount of time they’ve come to met each other, they’ve consistently rise to the occasion by becoming stronger and more calculating on every release. Looking at past groups that boast these types of massive lineups it’s easy to see another Wu-Tang on the rise. All of these artists boast their own style and delivery. Topics vary from the mocking of mainstream, celebrities, religion, social awareness, or their hometown of Portland.
If you take look at their only recent history it would be difficult to correlate the fact they sound so collectively confident. Even the production flows exceptionally well with each member; ranging from a short Middle Eastern approach from “Sandman” towards a more traditional hip-hop production of “The Count”. Lyrically they seem matured; easily the more distinct members that separate themselves from the others are those with more vocal talent. It’s extremely difficult not to be impressed with their track record; Illmaculate has already won the coveted Scribble Jam crown in 2004 (the year of their inception). The talented and veteran Illmaculate has gained the stance of being the ‘top 5 battle MCs’ after winning the World Rap Championships in Las Vegas. I could go on, but making an album that has direction and doesn’t claim 2-minute assaults on individuals is an entirely new concept. This is why 2008’s ‘Honest Racket’ is oddly devoid of most of these problems. Many of these tracks do not have one MC discussing his frustrations or assaulting other MCs and groups, instead they’ve cooperatively attacked these issues as a group. This is quite astounding considering their only recent inception.
The main problem that roots itself within this album is the rotation of members through every track. The centerpiece and distinct lead in these tracks vary, leaving something to be desired. “Group Home” is tiresome with verbal assaults on other groups and individuals. “It’s True” has a choppy mix of samples and piano that doesn’t seem to work with the flow of each member. Fortunately the pace within the album slows down in spots, a warm welcome for listeners. The already mentioned “Sandman” has fantastic beats, while “I Don’t Care” is sorrowful lyrical verses about past relationships and past aggravations. These slower tracks alleviate the constant high tempo for most of this album. “Not Alright” is excellent in its approach and paced percussion. “Any Given Sunday” discusses the religious aspects of life and the fear of death. The best part about ‘Honest Racket’ contains a variety of speed and instruments throughout. The classic percussion arrangements and booming bass that is usual with any hip-hop album. Keyboards and piano are used on a regular use with great planning.
Consider the facts: Only a 3 year history as a collective, individually talented, no signs of selfishness, and their fantastic production value on each track. This isn’t something I’d figure would be associated with 12 member group. If anything I still struggle with the idea of having those many MCs on one album without tripping on each other. Each area is solidified enough for us not to notice. This entire album for the most part is constructed exceptionally well within every member’s lyrical talents, excellent beats, and verbal prowess. The one thing that can be overlooked is the chorus work. Only exclusive on a few tracks, every single one of them is memorable to that individual track, imprinting its work. With so many members in one group the problem only exists with the lack of a leader, but this isn’t necessarily a problem for a hip-hop group since each member carries their own style and leadership on the tracks they’ve been incorporated with. I’d expect a release within another year since the talent level and cooperation with this group is only gaining confidence, momentum and experience with every album they release.