Review Summary: It may not be as ambitious as previous efforts but Rose Azura Njano is a thoroughly enjoyable listen, proving to be unique as well as consistent.
CunninLynguists are most certainly an interesting group, achieving moderate success with conceptual efforts such as A Piece of Strange and Oneirology. Rose Azura Njano, the Kentucky based trio's sixth studio album, follows on from the aforementioned albums and proves to be a solid and consistent record, full to the brim with excellent lyricism and second to none production values. The groups eclectic range of sounds is demonstrated to exemplary levels on Rose Azura Njano. The album opens with quite possibly the best track on the album in the form of Red, White and Blues. Poetic lyrics, unique instrumentation and a superb attention to detail combine to form what is one of the highlights of their career. Whilst the album never really dips in terms of quality, the opener is the peak of the album in my opinion, with the remaining tracks proving to be great cuts but not quite as hard hitting.
Rose Azura Njano is a wonderful mix of the ethereal, the whimsical and the thought provoking, with notable album highlights throughout. Tracks such as Gone and Hustlers provide great melodies and vocal hooks. More solemn and sombre moments are also present, with Red Bird and Violet (The Upper Room) being more slow-burning additions to the record. The more ethereal moments on the album come in the form of Oh Honey and Mr. Morganfield and Ms. Waters, with the latter referencing A Tribe Called Quest's recently deceased Phife Dawg, which is a nice touch. Overall, the level of consistency throughout the album is great, with Riot! proving to be the only weak track. I only say this because the track itself doesn't feel like a CunninLynguists effort. It comes across as slightly uninspired and forced, which cannot be said for the rest of the album.
Album closer Earth to Venus (Tiny Orange Star) is the perfect closer to the album, showcasing a more funky side to the group's sound. Instrumentally and lyrically, the group have always been very strong and Rose Azura Njano is no exception to an already brilliant discography. The group can feel comfortably proud of such an album and whilst it may not be as ambitious or daring as previous efforts, it holds up well against the majority of modern day hip-hop albums. I would recommend this to anyone who is a fan of emotional and well thought out music, not just hip-hop but music in general.
Red, White and Blues
Earth to Venus