Review Summary: Styles of Beyond are truly the pioneers of underground hip-hop.
First things first. These guys can rap. No doubt, when you hear the way Ryu and Tak flow you'll be amazed. While Tak presents the smooth-as-silk flow, Ryu brings the punchline pain. A duo of rap Gods that seemed untouchable in that period of time, and even through today they don't go down hard. Safe to say, their debut album is no different.
"2000 Fold" is a powerful mix of heavy-bass beats from producers Vin Skully & DJ Cheapshot, combined with the type of battle raps you could never match. "Styles Warz" is the first track (besides the intro) that murders the basic rhythm and rhyme hip-hop and establishes it in perfect execution. Much less focused on the actual rapping, though, but you can't help but listen to Ryu's first verse in this song. Its straight fire! Strange thing about this track is that the rest of the album sounds about the same, albeit slightly variated beats and scratches. Then theres "Muuvon", a track that sounds like it could've been produced by Daft Punk. Using french strings and a booming bassline, this is more of an impressive rap-dance song.
"Hollograms" is yet another clean-as-a-whistle flow, even with guest featured artist Spaceboy Boogie X. You'll be shamed to know that neither Ryu nor Tak is in the song, and is mostly a freestyle by Spaceboy. Nevertheless, this is an impressive track. The next couple of songs, "Dangerous Minds" & "Spies Like Us" have the James Bond-theme plotted well (and yes, there is a featured rapper on the songs called Emcee 007). The theme has never been done before, and its very original in concept. However, the beats are a bit repetitive at points, making you yearn for an acapella instead, cause you don't want to miss Tak's lightning quick verses.
The rest of the album runs the same from now on. Tak & Ryu delivering the rap Terminator of its generation and Vin-Skully and Cheapshot doing the tedious street beats. "Skullyanamayshun" is Vin's very own beat-project with strange alien intro's and skits, Tak dropping the verses. For one, its not bad at all. In fact, its another original song that was only recently matched by Lil Wayne's "Phone Home". Many references from E.T. are used in there too.
The bad starts from the very first track. Often their quick rapping can leave you dumb-founded and brainwashed, and at times difficult to follow the sequences with them. Another down side is the beats. It may be some of the hardest and best to date, but a lack of variation makes it a repetition of the same on every song. Featured artists are almost unheard of (who the hell is Simon James"!) and the choruses are completely missing in most of the songs.
What it comes down to at the end of the day, Styles of Beyond are truly the pioneers of underground hip-hop. Unmatched in skill, unmatched in beats and almost unmatched in every other way. The bad thing is being underground you don't really get the attention you deserve, and these guys deserve a freaking Grammy! I feel they never really push their skills until "Megadef", but "2000 Fold" continues to amaze, whether you a hip-hop fan or not.
1. "Styles Warz"
2. "Winnetka Exit"
4. "Marco Polo"