Review Summary: Styles Of Beyond make a good record but it still has major flaws. It gets an extra .5 for the amazing rapping.
Styles Of Beyond emerged on to the rap scene in 1998 but got a bigger buzz when their second album "Megadef" came out in 2003. With a small amount of rotation on MTV, Connections to Linkin Park and Jay-Z, and some ferocious battle rhymes, Megadef came into the world with a moderate amount of success. In the future they would start to be guests on the Fort Minor album and associates of the Demigodz/Army Of The Pharaohs crowd. The group itself have been on an indefinite hiatus since, but that's a shame, because Styles Of Beyond really had something going for them. So lets take a look back on Megadef and see how great it actually was.
The album consists of two DJ's, Cheapshot and Skully, and two rappers, Ryu Maginn and Tak Bashir. The production from the DJ's is wildly random, ranging from rock-tinged beats to some happy, De La Soul-esque beats, to some modernized production style that sounds like The Crystal Method-meets-Fort Minor. The beats are varied enough to keep a listener interested. Most of the beats are pretty simplistic though, relying on some sort of simple guitar, bass, or keyboard groove to keep things moving along. They never really experiment with where the beats go or add some sort of weird instrument to make you really stop and think about the music. Cheapshot and Skully also rely on sampling too much. While i do love samples in my songs, an over-abundance of them only works with albums like Paul's Boutique
or The Grey Album
. Most of their samples come from modern day southern rap songs and some Jay-Z samples instead of taking old samples and twisting them around. Overall, the production is pretty weak at times but a few of the beats stand out.
As i mentioned before, the album consists of two rappers, Ryu and Tak. They are both white and black respectively, creating a sort of interracial mixture in hip-hop that was rarely done before this. Ryu brings a fresher sound to Styles Of Beyond with his clever punchlines and metaphors, steady flow, and his ability to flow over any beat. He's also one of the few white rappers who can rap well and still have a decent sounding voice. On the other end of the spectrum you have Tak, who in turn doesn't really bring anything new to the table but his voice and amazing lyrics evoke memories of classic Rakim and late 90's Kool G Rap. He has his moments, but he's too overshadowed by the up-and-coming mc that was, and is, Ryu Maginn. Tak Bashir is still pretty good though.
The album has its fair share of problems. As mentioned before, not all of the beats are great and while they are different in sound, they never really experiment past beyond their basic grooves. There is decent rapping on here too, but this reeks of the other guy overshadowing the other. They need to balance out the rapping more. On a plus note, the guest spots from 4-Zone And Apathy And Celph Titled are awesome and are really worth hearing. A decent album in and of itself, but it needs major improvement.