The Left
Gas Mask


4.5
superb

Review

by Tupik USER (12 Reviews)
January 26th, 2011 | 19 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The best underground hip-hop album of 2010.

Since hitting the mainstream decades ago, hip-hop music has seen the emergence of a plethora of underground artists, as is the case with every other genre that has known the same success as rap has. While it is not uncommon at all to find quality albums in mainstream hip-hop, this past year being the ultimate proof of that with stellar releases from several mainstream rappers (Most notably Kanye West's own Fantasy), the masses are still being fed with, umm, "bullsh*t rap", a shame to the art form they manage to take to ridiculously low standards. Underground hip-hop, for most part, is a response to this type of rap, and The Left tackles this very issue by encouraging people to put on their Gas Mask to protect themselves from the toxic music polluting our airwaves.

They deliver their metaphorical protection in the form of a gem of an album, a response to the gimmicky rap they are attacking. The group itself is comprised of a producer (Apollo Brown), a rapper (Journalist 103) and a DJ (DJ Soko), a formula rarely seen today that harks back to the roots of rap. This battle against the people killing the art of the street is felt throughout the entire album, the first song "Gas Mask" being the clearest example, with the chorus going like this :

"I can't take it
All the wack gimmicks
I can't take it
All the fake lyrics
I can't take it
All the sex scandals
I can't take it
It's more than I can handle"


The entire song is an all-out war against, you get it, low-quality rappers whose only goals are to make money and be famous. Along with the intro, it is a perfect start to the album, setting the tone and more importantly setting the objective set by the trio for their piece of work : provide the listener with an opportunity to finally breath and enjoy "real hip-hop" amongst the glut of, well, "fake hip-hop". Thankfully the album's lyrical content is more varied than just criticising the mainstream. Wether it be love, streetlife, pure boasting, death threats or city-representing, Gas Mask deals with most of the typical subjects a hip-hop album can deal with. Granted, there is nothing overly original as far as lyrics go here, but Journalist 103 honors his name by telling the tales of the streets of Detroit from where the group hails from, with a gritty voice and heavy flow typical of the region, both of which suit the themes of the album very well.

While Journalist 103, along with the multiple guests present on the album, bring high-quality rapping to the table, the real draw here is the production. Apollo Brown, who has had a busy year also releasing his album The Reset, produces the 17 songs of the album, and he hits the nail in the coffin each of these 17 times. His production consists of soulful samples from the 60s and 70s, placed on top of hard-hitting drums and occasional horns and piano melodies. While this is a well-known formula in hip-hop, the beats on Gas Mask are all amazing, giving an extremely cohesive feel to the album, which leaves the listener completely alone with the music. It is impossible not to bob his head with every single beat the album contains. This is what puts Gas Mask over the top of what would have otherwise been a pretty ordinary album amongst the underground Detroit classics : Apollo Brown delivers on each and every track, with no exception. Every beat is catchy as hell, while still giving you that sense that you'll still be bobbing your head when you're rotting in your grave (That is, if someone actually thinks about playing this album near your tomb, which seems like a very f*cked-up thing to do if you ask me). DJ Soko provides the typical DJ cuts, enhancing further the street feel of the album.

It is not a simple feat for a group to be able to back up claims of basically wanting to save hip-hop (or more precisely saving the listener from bad hip-hop), but The Left manage to do just that, delivering a masterpiece in every possible way a hip-hop album could possibly do it : stellar production, tight lyrics, and great rapping. Gas Mask is the ultimate modern underground hip-hop album, a must-have for every hip-hop purist.

Next time you see Soulja Boy cranking that soul on MTV, you know what to do : Put on your Gas Mask, and enjoy.



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user ratings (27)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Tupik
January 26th 2011


673 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Rules. Fucking rules. This fucking rules.

iFghtffyrdmns
January 26th 2011


7047 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Nice review. You might want to proofread/edit this a bit, there's a few spelling/usage/grammar errors that I noticed. Other than that, seems pretty good. I usually don't listen to hip-hop at all but I might check this out.

pos'd.

Tupik
January 26th 2011


673 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I didn't even think about correcting the spelling mistakes, what a brain fart :D

I changed what I find, tell me if you find any.

Thanks for the pos, hope you'll enjoy this if you listen to it

MCGF
January 26th 2011


361 Comments


I heard a song from this a while ago, liked it a lot. nice review

HalfManHalfAmazing
January 26th 2011


801 Comments


I love the collab with Kool G Rap, got to check out the rest

somberlain
January 26th 2011


2121 Comments


'Desperation' is an awesome track! I need to listen to more of this

good review just one small criticism: you may want to combine some of your smaller paragraphs there

Tupik
January 27th 2011


673 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yep you're right, I'm going to combine the two right after the lyrics I quoted.

Thanks for the feedback guys, you should all really listen to this.

TheeLAMadMan
January 27th 2011


20 Comments


It's about time someone reviewed this

kingsoby1
Emeritus
January 30th 2011


4958 Comments


i dont think this is as good as you said, but i liked it. would be on my best hiphop of 2010 list (if i actually made one )

Tupik
January 30th 2011


673 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I did rank this pretty high, I don't expect everybody to like it as much as i do, but if it can at least get a bit more recognition it's pretty good

iFghtffyrdmns
January 31st 2011


7047 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Listened through this a bunch of times....I like it quite a bit but don't necessarily love it. Some of the tracks are great and others seem to be represent typical, boring, hip-hop a bit too much. Definitely glad I checked this out though.

Tupik if you haven't already done so, check out the new Macklemore and Ryan Lewis EP. It's pretty fucking phenomenal, possibly one of the best hip-hop records I've ever heard.

Tupik
February 6th 2011


673 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I will check it out

Tupik
February 15th 2011


673 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Anyone else listened to this ?

steveosk8s
February 16th 2011


135 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yes. picked it up this morning, listened to it in full, it's fantastic.

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
March 9th 2011


6201 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

So when it come to mind son I'm something like Frank Luc
Spittin' blue magic when I step in that sound booth

Tupik
March 19th 2011


673 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Dumb-ass hooks can get you dollar-sign digits
A nice whip, a nice crib and mad bitches
Interviews by swimming pools, the whole ticket
Just sign your soul on the dotted line who needs spirit ?
Integrity and morality just omit it
There ain't no need for real songs with real feelings
This shit is toxic killing the real left alive
It's The Left with the gas mask we must survive !

BiOZed
November 16th 2011


10 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is truly awesome. That gritty touch in the production matches perfectly with Journalist 103 voice, and the whole thing shows great coherence. There's also a lot of gems on it. As said in the review, everybody should check it.

iFghtffyrdmns
November 16th 2011


7047 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yo dawg
i heard

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
January 20th 2012


6201 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Anyone know if these guys have any merch? I need to get that album art on a shirt or something



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