Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Oldominion Continues to Bring the Heat

The Lowdown, 6/22/11

In my not so recent write-up of May's rap releases (or lack thereof), I defaulted on listing anticipated albums that hadn't dropped yet and mentioned that I hadn't heard Iame or Destro's albums yet. Well, now that I own said albums and have given them a number of listens, I have to say that these are two very solid pieces of work that stand out as the best hip hop releases of May by far. They're also some of the year's stronger hip hop releases, and really show off Oldominion's staggering level of quality as of late. So, as to not neglect these excellent pieces of music, here are some words on a blog:

1) Iame "Lame" (Taxidermy)

Iame has been releasing slept-on albums for years as a member of Seattle's two most respected crews, Sandpeople and Oldominion. His new album "Lame" is his strongest and most conceptual work to date, playing off of the way that many promoters have misprinted his name on flyers by examining his life as a "lame" underground rapper. Iame's voice and flow are more relaxed and confident than ever on this album, and his introspective lyrics cover a wide variety of original topics, including his domesticated lifestyle and the trials of his house cat. My favorite part of the album is the production, which is handled entirely by Oldominion's key producer Smoke M2D6. I think this album represents some of Smoke's finest work to date, as it carries that classic dark Seattle hip hop sound that Oldominion has become known for while delivering a variety of moods and staying cohesive the whole way through. Lots of terrific standout songs. My personal favorites are probably the haunting closing melodies of "What Kind Are You?," which showcases excellent verses from Smoke and Xperience, and the two part examination of religion "Thy Will / The.ism," where Toni Hill and XP both aid Iame on the soulful hooks. The whole project is solid as hell though, and is a damn fine way to be introduced to both Iame's excellent MCing and Smoke's excellent beats. "Lame" indeed. Title track below:

2) Destro "Ill.ustrated" (Vinyl Fluid Records)

One of the founding members of Oldominion holds it down on his solo debut. Destro is best known as 1/2 of the Seattle group Boom Bap Project, who released a couple of excellent albums of traditional hip hop music with production from the likes of Jake One and Vitamin D plus backing from Rhymesayers Ent. Fans of the Boom Bap Project albums will find a lot to enjoy on "Ill.ustrated," as Destro's taste in beats definitely leans towards the same kind of ill choppy boom bap found on those projects. While the style and traditional hip hop aesthetic are fully intact, Destro branches into more personal territory on this album with some of his strongest lyrics to date, touching upon the trials of growing up on "Just a Dream" and the responsibilities of being a father on "Together." He also weaves a good story on "Mr. Brown," and flexes some impressive cadences on the closing number "Oldominion Coming Through" with Sleep and Gold. And speaking of guest rappers, extra high marks here go to Vursatyl for his verse on "Eat'Em Up," which is straight-up one of the best verses I've ever heard from him! Check out the Mr. Hill produced "Sleep When I'm Dead" song below:

Find more artists like Destro at Myspace Music

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