Review Summary: Whoever reckoned we'd be destined for perfection in this rhyming profession; and be the best -- no question.
Its nice when a mixtape is so good that one assumes it is just another album proper. Cannot say it happens all the time, or that G-Side have any right to be this consistent, but here they go again, dropping another ***-hot mix of southern fried thump, some serious soul, and whole lot of dreamy trance music. With an artistic surge flowing through the hip-hop scene in Huntsville, Alabama, G-Side along with Block Beataz’ production prove that Slow Motion Soundz are still the kings of HuntsVegas with Huntsville International
Many have likened the current influx of hip hop in Bama’s northern most city to that of Atlanta in the 90s, and it wouldn’t be a shot in the dark. G-Side’s beats alone would garner them comparisons to classic Dungeon Family with all the electronic tweaks. lush horns and vibrant soul samples, but it’s also the persona they present. Like Goodie Mob they’re conscious and reflective presenting street tales tinged with the regret of the fooled youth and like Big Boi & Dre, they’re spacey, high as all hell and weird as ***. More than that though, the sounds bumping out of Huntsville are also very reminiscent of the syzurp and swerving beats of Houston. Closest regional sound you could argue is a combination of the two -- then there is the whole trance thing.
With G-Side, no matter how formidable ST and Yung Clova may be as Mcs, it’s always been about the beats. ST’s gouges into his own past and social commentary along with Clova’s rhymefest of dope, dealing and its draw backs were always accentuated by the superb bump backing them. Block Beataz, and their mix of banging low end bass, lighting fast tom fills with chopped and screwed 808s all held together with a severe love for trance and big beat house music.
Its funny when the NPR friendly voice of Matthew Africa chimes in during one of the mixtape’s worthwhile (yes, as in not a waste of your time) skits to exclaim his surprise that he’s “Not mad,”
with all the “programming and interesting little stuff they do,”
with their music. No matter how ironic or self aware G-Side are trying to be -- they couldn’t be more right. The flourishes of female vocals, woozy synth lines, and electronic rave outs not only add a fresh feel to the standard Southern 808s, soul sample and horn heavy
template but help to reinvent the sound as a whole. They pretty much proved that with their last LP Starshipz and Rocketz
, but with Huntsville International
G-Side are trying to do more than just verify they can achieve those heights again, of course they can. This is more of a declaration of purpose, a 1-up for Huntsville; who’s scene is garnering more praise outside of it’s own country (southernhospitality.co.uk), but who’s artist are damn sure trying to establish their point on home turf. As ST states on mixtape king “Rising Sun,” -- “Huntsville is so ***ing international/Should’ve been Alabama’s capital;”
by the album’s end you’ll have no reason to think otherwise.
was pretty much a G-Side and Blockbeataz affair, Huntsville INT
is a bit of a crew record from a production stand point. Though the mixtape, and Slow Motion Soundz are still held down indefinite by the Beataz, the rest of the Slow Motion crew is nothing to scoff at. The big beat crunk rave of L-Don’s “So Gone,” is superb. Then the sample heavy bangers “Paradise” and “Aura” showcase Mick Vegas’ gift with matching soul and house music so well you‘d hardly believe it wasn‘t a Block beat. While the collection could have gown awry, seeing as Starshipz
cohesive production was one of its strongest point, the exact opposite is apparent with Huntsville International.
If anything its better to know there’s more to these guys than just 1 trick performed in various ways by only 3 or 4 different dudes. Like Dungeon Family (ironically), Slow Motion Soundz seems outright teeming with untapped talent.
With all the praise to lop into Block Beataz’ bucket, no matter how warranted, the thick tick-tick-boom wouldn’t be half as interesting without ST and Clova. As he expresses on “Aura,” Clova is pretty set in his assertion that his supreme charisma has elevated him to that of icon status. No; but doesn’t mean the kid doesn’t have the chops required, or that you don’t just assume he is telling the truth. Outside of the money, girls, and blow there’s more to G-Side; even though “College Chicks” may just be the best song(rave) about coed asses ever. (“she shake that ass/but she still go to class in the mornin!”
) And yes, apparently G-Side are very, very
busy with Bama A&M, but its their contemplations on modern living and observations about their surroundings that make them so captivating.
“My President is black/but we still in Iraq/and we still in the hood/and pills are the new crack,”
ST spits at the beginning of album closer “So Wonderful.” For a song that starts as an almost exasperated sigh, it exits as a chill wave of trancey hope. The back end begins with Clova’s verse, where we find him explaining the downfalls of a recession “he’s never seeing” coming from a place where “we’ve never had anything.” But more importantly he begins to explain the need for hope, and responsibility -- “leading by example/so I went back to school.”
Its this side of the two artists that makes them so gripping. Street Scholars would be a foolish term to lump onto them, G-Side are not lyricists, at least in the classic(backpacker) sense. More so they present tales, choices they’ve made, things they’ve seen and done -- but all under the veil of change, of hope. They represent crack music in its purest form; ostentatiously full of regret. That is what has gained these young Mcs those comparisons to the greats like UGK, ScarFace and Outkast -- when you hear them speak, you don’t feel as though you’re being lied to. Furthermore when it’s backed by seriously banging space raves of beats -- what more could you really