Review Summary: Some dope (and refreshingly updated) east-coast bangers.Double Barrel
is depressing: while an impressive take on the quintessential east-coast banger, it serves as further proof that regional innovation in the sub-genre is stagnant. Granted, the shoes of the legendary DJ Premier are a bit difficult to walk in; still, constant imitation throughout the past decade is inexcusable. The fact that Marco Polo ( a displaced Canadian no less) has been one of the scarce few Premo disciples to be consistent is frustrating to say the least. But Torae, label Duck Down, and fans alike are fortunate for this.
From a holistic perspective, Double Barrel
may sound dated to those in touch with the goings-on in other regions - and it is, partly. But this is one-half illusion; the record is truly excellent and puts New York back on the track it should have found at the turn of the century. Indicative of the record's tone from commencement, Premier himself readies the audience for the urgent double-barrel blast of the title track, where Polo quickly establishes his head-knocking-hard production style. First single "Party Crashers" finishes the 1-2 punch combo with an aggressive (yet accessible) horn-blast laden foray into the fundamentals of crashing parties (see the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMP26a60ymk). Where the beats aren't terribly fresh or experimental, Polo gets bonus points for his incredible consistency and arcane ability to induce subconscious neck-bobbing.
The production team excels largely in providing an acceptable sonic backdrop for Torae to rhyme over; without this (or even DJ Revolution's tasteful cuts on a few joints), he is nearly indistinguishable from other hardcore bent tri-state rappers. In fact, this happens with startling (but welcome) frequency, as Rocc, Guilty Simpson, Masta Ace, and Sean Price steal the spotlight for their respective featured verses, adding a lot to the track. This isn't to say Torae is inadequate - he isn't - he merely appears to approach writing with a bit too much structure and, at times, comes off a bit too static in tone and flow.
But while somewhat uneven, Double Barrel
finds the perfect meeting grounds for this classically NY-influenced duo and puts forth encouragement for a revitalizing east coast scene. Duck Down really is at the forefront of this reconstruction effort, with such rapid (and consistent) improvement. Here's a pat on the back, now keep it coming.