Review Summary: Probably the best hip-hop debut since Food & Liquor imo.
When this album dropped back in 2007, it had almost no effect whatsoever on the hip-hop community. Even I hadn’t heard of these guys until a few weeks ago. Nevertheless, The Scope of Things proves to be a lot better than your average debut from a MySpace act.
Move.meant consists of two producers – DJ Spider and Just Beats – and MC Champ, with the standard story of them growing up together, deciding to form a group, struggling to find a label, etc. The production from Spider and Just Beats is pretty solid, whilst still keeping its originality. There is considerable use of brass in the beats, along with some piano and strings. Whilst the production isn’t anything to scream about, it’s definitely above average, and brings out the best in Champ, who flows over it pretty well. The first comparison that comes to mind about the group would probably be to Atmosphere, although the two are slightly different.
The actual rapping is pretty good, and a nice breath of fresh air compared to the majority of hip-hop right now (you certainly won’t hear any “money cash hoes” here). In terms of subject matter, the best comparison would be to Common or maybe Lupe Fiasco. You’ve got some conscious hip-hop on here (see Say When and Miracle) as well as some songs which were just designed for having a good time (Rock Steady). Although even by 21st century standards, Champ isn’t the greatest lyricist (he’s easily outclassed by rappers like Canibus, Chino XL and Lupe), he’s perfectly competent, and definitely above average. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the guest spots. Whilst not necessarily bad, with the exception of Silo, who delivers one of the best verses of the album on Someday, most are inferior compared to Champ.
The album flows pretty well, and manages to give a similar sound throughout, without sounding too monotonous. There’s random spoken intermissions every few songs from some woman, which are kind of unnecessary, and don’t really add too much to the album, but are tolerable nonetheless. The main issue I have with this album (besides the mediocre features), is the inconsistency. Some tracks are amazing – album highlight Miracle is a conscious number with a pretty sick beat, and some pretty deep lyrics, like “What if rappers stopped acting hard / When in fact they’re scarred, would it really take an act from God? / Is he even listening? What if y’all stopped believing? / Christian, Muslim, Jew / What if people start casting votes? Stop casting stones / Dead beef, get to acting grown / And their kids stopped killing for a fistful of Lincolns / Probably just wishful thinking”. Someday, featuring Trek Life and Silo, is also a dope track, with the three rappers reflecting on life and their childhoods. There are some less than good songs however. Rock Steady sounds like it could be a Tinie Tempah song (and I don’t mean from back when he was actually good), and Relax is pretty boring.
Despite that, this is definitely one of the better rap albums to come from the last five years, with some refreshing beats, and some pretty good lyrics, with a decent enough flow to match. Another thing I liked about the album was the samples – any hip-hop head will recognise the samples from Illmatic’s One Love and Represent, and possibly the Busta sample from A Tribe Called Quest’s Scenario. I believe there’s also a Common sample in the opening song, but I don’t recognise it, and there’s probably a few I missed as well. So yeah, overall, a pretty solid album, I would recommend this for anyone who likes new school alternative hip-hop.