Review Summary: Y'all stuck here. We on another planet. In another atmosphere.
If Sumthin 2 Hate
was the foreboding horizon with Starshipz and Rocketz
the calm before the downpour and Huntsville International
was unquestionably the monsoon's brunt--this Alabama duo's fourth full-length easily fits as the eye of this hurricane. The One...Cohesive
as a title is a bit of a head-scratcher, at least initially. The album's blending of the neo-soul, trance inducing house, hypnotizing strings, trunk-rattling bump and the introspective (albeit hedonistic) lyricism of G-Side's previous three records fits the namesake quite aptly. The One...
is extremely, well, cohesive for how widescreen its ambitions are. Quite possibly more in sync than the other three extremely well-constructed G-Side albums. Though unlike the unrelenting hooks of Starshipz
or panoramic piano keys and soul samples of Huntsville Intl
, The One
does not present any real revelation for G-Side. Granted the marriage between the synth heavy house, soul samples a la Mr. West is so pitch perfect that it's easy to forgive them for not re-inventing the game once more.
Really The One...Cohesive
almost feels as a stepping stone to something greater. That this storm has yet to reach it's apex and we're in for some serious *** come the back-end of this trill-typhoon. Yet the album doesn't leave you in want for something better. By the record's wrap there can't be enough of ST 2 Lettaz' raspy drawl or Yung Clova's assured swagger or the Block Beataz' expansive, forward-thinking production work. Who, to set it straight, are without a doubt the finest group of avid electronica fans working behind hip-hop boards today. The Slowmotion Soundz label out of Huntsville, Alabama continue to provide solid evidence that a combination of house, trance and soulful hip-hop will not be the eventual downfall of rap music. If anything they're that light at the end of the tunnel. You know, that passage between the classic knock-knock of party music and the next step in the genre's evolution; filled to the rafters with Flo-Ridas, T-Pains and a myriad of other ***ty club dons. ST, Clova and the Beataz are the torch bearers for hip-hop's future--a progression of sound so perfect it is amazing the amount of years it took to finally ***ing get it right. But rest assured, G-Side and Slowmotion have hit a particularly rewarding nerve once again with The One...Cohesive
While The One...Cohesive
without a question works as a showcase for the Block Beataz infectious production skills, I don't mean to sell G-Side short. Both ST and Clova tote distinctive flows and personalities. And while they could use a little help on the lyrics sheet from time to time--they experiment with complex rhyme schemes and toy with excellent hooks like it was second nature. Both partaking in a young-and-fun yet thought provokingly wise ethos. Preferring to champion hard work and a diligent attention to detail as opposed to violence or selling drugs.
Even as their label grows and their audience expands around a sound that is resoundingly singular G-Side still operate under a distinctly independent business plan. To put it bluntly, ST and Clova aren't quite nearly as global as they think. They play the part of local heroes; still selling CD's after their concerts but making a decent living from it. Working a nine to five before throwing together a chemical cocktail on their way to perform a club show. Everyone knows them, arms wrapped around shoulders, drinks being bought for them as the resident females flutter at their feet. Or so you'd be told. In reality ST owned and operated a gas station with his brother while Clova had the deed to a barber shop--this is not to say they weren't busy rolling face nightly before they went home with a few random girls. It's just the work-man-like dedication paid to their craft and their innate ability to rhyme about basically girls, money, cars and drugs without being rife with cliches is surprisingly refreshing. ST and Clova never seem any more distant than your next door neighbor. Though unlike their other records, The One...
exudes an air of maturity throughout its run time; even as ST finds time to tell apprehensive rap “legends” to, well, eat a dick.
This time though the record's introspective nature is not weighted so much in G-Side's troubled upbringings as it is in their current conflict with simply trying to make it without selling yourself short. Their “W-2 Boy” archetype has become a bit more realistic, a little less frantic. The maturity shown on Huntsville International's
final third has come to full fruition with The One...Cohesive
. You can feel the palpable struggle. But it's not of a youth trying to escape the constraints of the ghetto--it's a siren song of the small business owner passing on a stable career to teeter their life on the capricious nature of trafficking in art. The opportunities left behind, the relationships ruined, family and friends thrown to the wayside in the name of music. G-Side are damn good; but they know as well as anyone else that doesn't always mean ***. You feel their heart, their strife in every inch of The One...Cohesive
and that alone is the album greatest strength.
"So now the critics be comparing us to Outkast/That's funny/Cause they treat us like some outcasts."
ST parleys on “Inner Circle.” But the comparison isn't far off, on either side of the statement. Though nowhere as technically savvy as Big or Andre both ST 2 Lettaz and Clova possess the same observant qualities to their writing that beguiles the hood-standard themes frequently dealt with. Coupled with the Block Beataz spacey production and superb roster of label mates they certainly echo some of Outkast and Organized Noize's defining elements. That and much like the Atlanta kings, G-Side are running an absurdly successful string of great records since their debut. On the other hand though, as they take the time to poignantly point out through out The One
: the fact that G-Side make soulful, hazy hip-hop and are from the South they automatically fit into that “Atlanta” aesthetic--or should if they wish to succeed.
Granted they have, now, four albums worth of arguments to the contrary and continue to get paid. So really: Who's winning this clash between artistic integrity and the massive money bags attributed with selling out
now? And more importantly: what defines emphatic success? A comfortable life? Or oodles and oodles of essentially useless currency? G-Side still seem to be searching for the answer. So while they continue to advocate all the trappings of lavish living--they cannot escape their roots and the desires for a simple life. This dichotomy to their personalities grants G-Side a level of genuine honesty still hard to find in hip-hop.
Success is the essence though. The driving point behind every movement made by G-Side. Though do not let this cheapen their image for you. G-Side are without a label and not for lack of offers. As Clova points almost prolifically on album stand out "Moneyintheskii:" "So they tell me my patience is a virtue/When I sign my first deal/That deal won't hurt you."
And surely they are experiencing a healthy modicum of success right now. But as ST likes to put it: "Good ain't good enough." But in all reality if staying unsigned means G-Side and the whole Slowmotion crew will continue to create with the same eloquent fervor and maintain their pressing of each and every boundary hip-hop has built for itself: I kind of hope they never get a deal. Sorry guys. I cannot help being selfish when the finished product is something so expansive, so lush, so indisputably ***-hot as The One...Cohesive