Monday, October 24, 2005
At first glance the title and artwork adorning "Bleed For Them" suggest anything but what's actually on the album - a multitude of soul-flooded beats and fluid, introspective couplets.
But there's a dual meaning behind the title of Archetype's sophomore release; the duo of Nezbeat and Id are so dedicated to the craft that they are figuratively (if not literally) bleeding for the fans and those random heads who desert the woodwork when this Lawrence pair's rockin a show.
Happiness lies at home though, and after checking out the collage of friend/family photos in the CD inlay, you begin to realize that they're also willing to bleed for those closest to them in any environment, not just atop a stage or in the studio. For an artist to give this much unabashedly is a rarity, but in the close-knit Lawrence/KC scene, the sentiment makes perfect sense.
Both producer/occasional MC Nez and mainstay spitter Id have been keeping themselves busy in the 3 years since their opening salvo, 2002's Freehand Formula. Nez served up some beats to Mac Lethal and formed a band in which he is the producto-maestro, Blackout Gorgeous. Id teamed up with Miles Bonny and Sleeper to release two of the most forward-thinking projects that the area has ever seen. It's obvious that they had this album on their minds the whole time, though; the chemistry between the two childhood friends is apparent from the first bars of "Wait Or Break," where Id utters "Hold your breath for your family or friends/'Cause ain't no telling how they're going to react to this mess/Perfect in its nastiness" over mournful horns from Nezbeat. The production here is nothing short of an aural cornucopia, with Nez putting it down in a true digger's delight style reminiscent of Pete Rock or PUTS's Thes One. On tracks like "Prey On The Weak" and "Unfolding," he seamlessly blends the guitar of Steve Hammond in with the rest of the programming and sampling, never letting the live overshadow the digital. The best tracks on the album are anchored by soul gold though; the plucked bass anchoring "Keep It Comin," the sureshot brass and improbable guitar loop of "Freakin' Out," and the jaunty piano-organ combo on "Think Of Me" should be destroying your headphones right now.
Id takes the opportunity to exercise some new rhyme patterns as well as clarify his existing style. "I'll Be Honored" finds him drowsily warbling the chorus, only to pause and begin his sharp, conversational flow. The frenetic stomp of "Prey On The Weak" finds him and Nez (courtesy of double-tracking) serving up social commentary and verbalizing in a furious '88 model. Although he's been rhyming a lot lately, it seems that Id has saved some of his most diverse writing for this album. Nezbeat's style is more generally observational, but peppered with playful humor (imagine traveling into the sunset in an "olive-oil fueled jet" or "sitting on an icecap/me and Selma Hayek" and you'll get the idea). Also worth noting is the auspicious debut of Adru The Misphit over an ascending steel drum loop on track 14; the kid is hungry as hell, and I guarantee that this appearance won't be his last.
Stunted growth means diminishing returns in the music world, but Id and Nezbeat prove that one can stay rooted and access everything they need through a powerful impulse to create - as Id notes on "Keep It Comin," "No outlets eventually/You found rhyme could set you free/Now it's just the madness of your pen and a beat/I love it." In this way, "bleeding for them" takes on an importance that is personal as well as public, the eternal artist's dichotomy. Here's to hoping that in Archetype's case, this is still only the beginning.