Review Summary: A near-perfect example of how to do a study of the dynamics of a relationship in album form.
TiRon and Ayomari are part of a California rap crew named The Cafeteria Line, who have put out a slew of solid releases over the course of the last few years on their Bandcamp page. TiRon has both Ketchup
to his credit, while Ayomari has The PB&J Solution
. Both have appeared on each others' work, and almost every time those songs were the highlights of the album. So a collaborative effort from just these two members of the crew makes complete sense. And the fact that it would turn out to be something special shouldn't have been a surprise either, but even I was unprepared for just how good of an album these two managed to make together.
Making a concept album on the nature of relationships, either dissolving or thriving, is not a new thing. However, what makes this album (a hip-hop album, no less) unique is that it's written by two men, yet it has a viewpoint that is told in equal parts from the male and female perspective. In fact, it could be argued that it leans more on the female perspective side of things throughout. Making something like that sound honest, as well as making sure it never borders on schmaltz, is a tricky task to pull off. Thankfully TiRon and Ayomari make it work with excellent lyrics throughout, with the help of some great production to back them up.
Album opener "Jack Kerouac" starts with the sound of cars driving down the freeway at night, before the strings that back the track kick in. Lyrically, it equates love with hitchhiking, with the chorus including the line "Got bags on my shoulder and I wish someone’ll slow down". Following that is the possible highlight "Her Theme Song", with a bouncy piano laying the foundation for a song with a sweetly sung chorus about a woman who "if you threw her up in the air, it'd turn to sunshine". Other things the album touches on are the obsession with the female form on "Perfect", feminism on "Denouement", and that feeling of knowing it's time to end a relationship that just isn't working on the mournful, Oddisee produced album closer "Fin".
There aren't any attempts at a radio song on the album, though "M.F.G." would probably be the closest anything comes. It's the only one with a driving beat and really catchy hook, at least in comparison to the rest of the album. But the highlights abound, from "A Lot On Your Mind" to "The Neighbors", almost every track is a gem. There's plenty to love here for the hip-hop heads, and a lot of appeal for people with a passing interest in hip-hop as well. And if TiRon & Ayomari never do an album together again, they've said all they need to say about what they can do together with A Sucker For Pumps