Monday, November 22, 2010

Complex Ways to Break Your Neck

The Lowdown, 11/22/10

Broken Complex's self-titled album isn't broken, unless you count the necks that will snap while listening to the complex stylings featured on this impressive debut.

It's rare that a crew of so many lesser-known rappers stands out as being unique, but that's precisely what Broken Complex have accomplished with this labor of love. Consisting of producer DJ Hoppa and MCs Mine+Us, Populus, Sirah, Max Star, Cleen, Laz, and Uncle D, the entire collective comes with their A-game and delivers a memorable album full of great beats, great cuts, and really great rapping. More often than not, crews crowded with lesser-known MCs end up sounding largely generic on the rapping front, but the seven rappers of Broken Complex all stand out with their own distinctive styles and personalities. Mine+Us & DJ Hoppa have been on the grind for a minute now, as have Sirah and Cleen, and their excellent performances here mark some of their best work to date. I don't know who the hell Max Star is, but he murders every verse on this album with a crazy amount of swagger and confidence in his vocals. Laz and Uncle D are probably the weakest links of the crew in my book, but they're never wack and have a couple of key stand-out moments, like Laz's punk rocker gone hip hop verse on "Don't Hate on my 808" or Uncle D's affirmation of birth on "One Minute." Perhaps the biggest surprise of the album is Populus, who I'd previously dismissed as not being my style but who is arguably the star player on this full length, kicking the largest number of memorable verses. DJ Hoppa offers up a super solid gang of simple, jazzy boom bap beats for all of the rapper types to kill it over, and it works wonders. There are a few questionable hooks and a weak guest verse from Copywrite (though he does offer up a great hook), but overall this is a great album with a fun "friendly competition" sort of vibe running throughout it.

One of the best hip hop debuts of 2010. These guys are touring the left coast currently, and will be opening for Souls of Mischief in San Francisco at Slim's on November 24th. 90% sure I'll be attending. :)

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