Review Summary: Intelligent enough for the conscious, poppy enough for the club, and ideal for a 45-minute workout.
It's really no secret: some of the most creative beats right now are coming out of Michigan's motor-city, influencing the entire midwest and hip-hop as a whole into the next decade.
Now that the generic introduction that could be said of 94.38% of all Detroit-style productions is out of the way, enter De La Soul. An icon of the Golden Age, conscious hip-hop revolutionaries, and a driving force of the genre for more than a decade, they take on a precarious mantle: Nike's latest mixtape masterminds. Does commercial sellout status really befit such legendary figures? Well, yes - Are You In?
(yes Nike marketing team you can keep your jobs, we get it, R-U-N) is a fitting foray into the "workout rap" genre. The beats are energetic, the trio is as lyrically fresh as ever, and the compositions are perfectly tailored to working those intervals right. Surprisingly enough, the slightly faster average BPM of the tape suits De La's flow, especially coupling their typical jazz-influenced, horn-laden backdrop with prototypical midwestern production.
While repetition sets in with stationary listens (a few of these tracks are about three to four minutes too long), that's exactly the idea behind the tape; this is an organism that grows. "Rise and Shine" is a disjointed shot of espresso (produced by the D's Young RJ) that readies the prospective rapthlete for a "Good Morning", a fitting electronica transition and focus-builder. Dynamic, and largely concerned with gear-shifting, the workout builds from the boom-bap of "Big Mouf", through the tension-inducing "Attack of the Stet", and "Pick[s] Up The Pace" with a jazzy old- meets new-school vibe, where Pos Plug Won performs admirably as chief composer. This is all preparation for the apex interval one-two punch of Maseo- and Flosstradamus-produced "Greedy Man" and "We O.D.", respectively, kicking the mix to its highest point of energy. Some cool-down "Victory Laps", a chill "Forever" later, and the R-U-N
What's really impressive: this is intelligent enough to satisfy the conscious-cats with enough inspiring socio-political discussion (see Gina Loring's "Poetic Greed"), poppy enough for the club with some hype-generating hooks, and ideal for a 45-minute workout. I honestly can't wait for tomorrow morning.