Tuesday, April 19, 2005
There's a theory among many in the hip-hop community that there are specific listening practices for hip-hop fans in different areas of the country. Artists in New York, for example, like to make sure that their tracks hit headphones with vigor, on the West Coast the car system provides the ultimate measure of worth for a new album, and in the South, the club atmosphere seems to be the litmus test for what's next on the hot plate. Producers in each area often think about the sound of albums with this theory in mind; these modes of listening become proving ground zero. So it makes sense that smack dab in the middle of all this (read: Lawrence/KC), a duo by the name of SoundsGood would take all of this into consideration and dare to ask what would happen if an album encompassed all of these environments.
It's been three years since Miles Bonny (beats) and Joe Good (rhymes) released a full length, and it's obvious that in that time, they've blossomed sonically - peeping game and stepping theirs up accordingly. Joe's already buoyant flow takes a friendly conversational air on most of the tracks, and he rides beats like fat dudes ride the sofa, particularly on songs like "Everything" and "Mad Cow."
Utilizing a complex scheme of multiple internal and end rhymes, Joe tackles up-tempo party-type joints, ruminations on the opposite sex and biting social commentary with subtle assuredness - even when he picks targets, he's diplomatic about it. He even makes the usually deadly practice of saying a line twice in a row work on "Worldwide," spitting "At best gon' make your momma say 'Oh my lord'/Won't rest 'til I make your momma say 'Oh my lord!'" While the choruses sometimes lack complexity, one need look no further than the meat of the verses for satisfaction.
The production is as warm and bouncy as the rhymes, evidence of both the chemistry between the duo and Miles' heavy background in jazz. Although there are a lot of standout moments musically on the album (the chopped, furtive vibes of "Worldwide," the stutter-step Latin explosion of "Saturday"), it's really all about the basslines. Able to dart and strut simultaneously, one can't help but zone in on the low end, which makes it feel like you've turned into a bobblehead doll whether in car, crib or club.
The aforementioned "Saturday" is one of those tracks that might make you want to punch people in the back of the head if you weren't so busy waving both of your fists in the air, and the 808 stabs and underwater Mario-type keys of "Gotta Get Up" are guaranteed to move more butts than Phillip Morris. Miles' production can seem chameleonic at times, but always prevails as absolutely unique and uniquely fulfilling.
- Saturday, May 14, 2005, 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
- Granada, 1020 Mass., Lawrence
- All ages / $15
While there may be a couple of dubious inclusions on the disc (the old-school filler "Fresh," the meandering "I Know"), it's mostly killers on B&G.; By keeping the guest appearances in-house and to a minimum, SoundsGood are able to showcase how their synergy makes them one of the most exciting acts in the area in any genre, period. The Midwest may be young and restless (as Kanye so cryptically put it), but as long as its musical representation is in the hands of folks like Miles and Joe, at least the soundtrack will be dope. Pick up three copies, 'cause your car and personal stereos certainly need one, and so does your favorite local DJ.