Review Summary: ... almost, but not quite
Hailing from all over The Golden State the Living Legends were comprised of, at the time, eight hip hop artists. The collaborations between the smaller factions began in the early nineties, although not fully realizing their potential as a unit until the mid to late years of the decade. Persistent performances and promotion of their brand of hip hop resulted in a rather large underground following, that adored their alternative nature and independent mindset. The fans felt a kinship with their lighthearted, hardworking do-it-yourself ethos forcing the popular media to take notice, some even describing them as darlings of the independent rap movement. On what could be considered a plea to the mainstream they so fervidly fought against Classic sees the Legends casting their collective ears to the past while maintaining their fingers on the pulse of the day.
Navigating through the stream of the group's collective consciousness--the verses reminisce about the past, yet still strongly examine the present and future consequences of those regretful actions. The members aren't ever fighting for attention, each getting a chance to shine and use their unique skills on most of the cuts off the album. Although, there are a few emcees that standout; the lightning quick flows of Eligh, the loquaciousness of The Grouch, the fierceness of Scarub and the tranquil yet heartfelt spirit of Bicasso. Topics at their most retrospective include; the wisdom of experience, deception, failed past relations, conviction and determination. However, not all tracks remain squalidly stuck in the mire, the early numbers in particular showcase a celebration of the collective's achievements and a commemoration of those aspects of the past that haven't yet lost their luster. These numbers use playful beats including choruses, popularized by some of their contemporaries, to induce a sense of joviality in the listener. Bouncing ideas off each other in a whimsical way, the Legends at times approach life as a festival. Allowing the audio voyage to sail upstream while remaining blissfully unaware of the earnest moments that are to follow. The turning point might be the most sincere track on the whole album "Never Fallin'" which uses a soft piano line in combination with a scratchy reverberation to propel poignant lyrics aimed at the charade of plateauing adulthood we all reach.
As if a metaphor for life itself, the album cradles the listener through the entire life/death cycle. Never once neglecting its listener Classic carefully tries to bridge the gap between conflicting emotions. The album as a whole passionately keeps in equilibrium these all too familiar human sentiments; wistfulness and a yearning for something original. The production continuously facilitates the mood of each track. Lively and smooth at it's brightest while contemplative and somber during the more emotional numbers. Production duties are sometimes done by the group members themselves, Eligh, in particular handling sole producing credit for five tracks. Although, that isn't to say that there aren't gripes about some of the beat or sample selections. "Tears and Pain (Neverendingstreets)" comes to mind as an instance where the mood is upset through an annoying looped vocal melody. The blunders are few and far between though as the majority of the numbers transition smoothly between the differing emotions being evoked.
Naming their album Classic is bold but could also be seen as presumptuous. The main question then, to settle that dispute, is does it stack up to its namesake? Although a modification from their earlier perhaps more humble works Classic maintains the Living Legends underground mantra while at the same time applying all their creative properties towards a more substantial goal. It's their authenticity that keeps them grounded in reality as they reach upwards for legitimacy. Creating a statement about their past, rooted in nostalgia while taking novel steps forward.