I�ve always admired the certain sense of camaraderie that always runs through hip-hop. I mean, sure, rappers talk about killing each other an awful lot, but if you look past that, most people in that section of the music business are fairly welcoming of new acts and distinguished peers. For example, just about every modern rap album features guest appearances from a variety of artists - usually not even being limited to other hip-hop/R&B, etc. performers nowadays. I also like it when successful rappers make it big as producers or record label executives. Take Ludacris
for example. He�s a great guy. Well, he is in theory, at least. If nothing else Ludacris is smart. One of the smartest moves of his career was to sign a pair of young MCs by the name of Smoke and Shawn Jay to his record label, Disturbing Tha Peace - a division of Geffen. These two youngsters, going by the name of Field Mob, have since released two moderately successful albums. Critics praised Field Mob for their decidedly laidback approach to hip-hop, along with remaining true to their country roots. The duo�s third album, Light Poles and Pine Trees
, is the best example of their fabulous talent thus far.
From the beginning, Smoke and Shawn Jay have been aiming to find an Outkast
-esque sound. However, on Light Poles and Pine Trees
, the pair find themselves discovering their own unique Southern rap vibe, without straying too far from the tried and true formula of their legendary forbearers. Field Mob like to have fun with their music. Their lyrics are fool of crude jokes that overlay hook-laden beats, creating an incredibly appealing mainstream rap package. In laymen�s terms: Light Poles and Pine Trees
is an enjoyable, stress-free listen. Field Mob don�t rap about violence, drugs, life on the streets, or anything even remotely approaching hardcore hip-hop themes. The pair asserts their desires to simply live the good life on their third album: women (which are tantamount to sex in the eyes of Field Mob), money, freedom, and basically any other part of the �American Dream.�
Smoke and Shawn Jay compliment each other quite well throughout Light Poles and Pine Trees
. Whereas Smoke is Yin, Shawn Jay is Yang, and the two react to one another with an almost symbiotic relationship. The pair�s delivery is top-notch, and leaves little to be desired. Both spit intelligently nonsensical wordplay, which is enthralling enough to take your breath away at a listen. Field Mob are the top of rap group that could probably laugh their way through an entire song and still make it enjoyable enough to listen to. Their music just has a certain type of charisma to it, something that many modern hip-hop acts are sorely lacking in. Of course, Field Mob get a little bit of help on Light Poles and Pine Trees
(falling in with the whole �camaraderie� thing). Aside from Ludacris himself, R&B superstars Ciara
and Bobby Valentino
, the multi-talented Jamie Foxx
, as well as rapper/gospel artist Jazze Pha
, and a host of others, join Field Mob throughout their third disc. Such an enigmatically pleasing all-star cast keeps Light Poles and Pine Trees
in a constant state of refreshment, meaning things are never boring.
The music is also quite impressive. There�s a good deal of repetition to be found on Light Poles and Pine Trees
, but nothing annoyingly so. Everything from warm-weather reminiscent beat box samplings, to simply pop beats help to make this an excellent summer time record. I�d be willing to wager quite a bit on the fact that Field Mob was shooting for exactly such a sound. The entire album flows together in an impressively coherent fashion. Even the track selection helps to keep the album new and exciting. Light Poles and Pine Trees
is an very, very polished album, and it�s blatantly obvious (which is a good thing, of course).
One of the finer examples of Field Mob working with one of their distinguished guests in �Smilin,� which features the commanding drawl of Ludacris. �Smilin� is the type of song that you tap your feet along to. The vocals are slightly high-pitched (read: nasally), but that only adds to the song�s overall charm. Naturally, when Luda comes on, he shows the two youngsters how its done. However, Smoke and Shawn Jay are hardly overshadowed by their supporting cast at any time on Light Poles and Pine Trees
. Rather, they seem to attempt to outdo each other, and their guests, in a constantly ambitious cycle that spans the album in its entirety. Smoke cuts loose on exuberantly debauched songs like �Baby Bend Over,� letting Shawn Jay play back up. Smoke also takes the lead on the black-on-black tendencies of �Blacker the Berry� and its accompanying skit of the same name. Actually, the only track on Light Poles and Pine Trees
that could be considered �filler� is the one minute and eight seconds of �Blacker the Berry� the skit. The rest of the album, is nothing but music. Field Mob have chosen success in the form of writing an album full of quality songs, rather than relying on the strength of two or three singles. That along is enough to make the pair�s latest effort a winner.
�I Hate You� is a curious song, which samples the chorus of [R&B singer and wife of hip-hop maverick Nas
� �Caught Out There.� The curious thing is that Field Mob have chosen to omit Kelis� voice, replacing it with a member of Disturbing Tha Peace�s nu-metal band�s Lazyeye
�s screaming of �I hate! You so much! Right now!
.� With a little help from Ciara, Field Mob make �So What� into one of the catchiest songs on the album, and one of the easiest to listen to. �At the Park� exudes a certain sense of power, and makes for excellent driving music. Its definitely one of the �must-listen� tracks from Light Poles and Pine Trees
, featuring slick, light speed rhyming from both Smoke and Shawn Jay, in the best way possible. Ludacris makes his return alongside Jamie Foxx on �Georgia,� making for an anthem-like testament to Field Mob�s home state, keeping the duo true to their roots. Other songs from Light Poles and Pine Trees
serve best to flesh out the record with a certain sense of character. With the exception of the irksome �Area Code 229,� there really isn�t a bad song to be found here.
After two critically acclaimed albums garnering less-than-adequate commercial success, Field Mob seem to finally have found their sweet spot, with just a little push from Ludacris. The pair have created a fun Southern hip-hop album, that�s suited both for home and club-oriented listening. Its this kind of versatility that helps to make Light Poles and Pine Trees
one of the most impressive hip-hop albums to be released so far in 2006. I, for one, will most likely have this on my play list for the rest of the summer, and I recommend that anyone else in need of some enjoyable music should purchases this album post-haste. After all, you want to show a little camaraderie, don�t you?