Time Crisis [Album Review]

No matter what lane of the music game you are a part of, relationships mean everything. So for everyone who has gone out of their way to make a legit connection with ZIF and consistently shoot us the fruits of your hard labor, and then make yourselves available to talk about it, you are genuinely appreciated. For any artists reading this that want some more online love, get at us. We’re always interested in new music and new people.

I say the above, because there is one label that mos def is always keeping us in mind when it comes to their new releases and that is the guys out of Boston at Fameless Fam. While it may not be the most universal hip-hop we have stumbled across, each Fameless release is well thought out, and treated with a lot of dedication and talent. Yet if any of the Fam’s projects fully exemplify this, it would no doubt have to be their most recent release, the self titled debut from production duo Time Crisis.

Time Crisis – Pen To Paper

Time Crisis is an album that sounds unwilling to conform to the musical norms and structures of a standard hip-hop record. With most of the tracks structured around live instrumentation that frequently features guitar work, and many sung, rather than rapped, verses, such as on “Pen To Paper”, the project some times resembles more of an indy rock record than anything else. Yet at the same time Fameless is a hip-hop label, and it is clear that even on  probably their most experimental album, they are unwilling to turn their back on their hip-hop routes. Therefore Time Crisis enlisted the help of fellow label mates partyboobytrap, which consists of Virtue, Exquisite Corpse, and Fameless’ resident DJ, DJ Emoh Betta. The result is an interesting mix of complex rhyme patterns over instrumentals that most listeners would not expect to be paired with rap.

Speaking of instrumentals, the production value is without a doubt what makes this album stand apart from the rest of Fameless’ catalog, and the majority of modern hip-hop. Not only is the sound big  and whole, but the mixture of live instrumentation with, samples, synthesizers, and computer noises creates a truly unique soundscape that is made additionally compelling by the influence and blending of many musical genres. Tracks like “Heaven” give me the idea that this album would be equally exciting in a instrumental only format. There are so many interesting things going on in the music, that I feel like it would be a 100% satisfying experience to hear this album without any words.

Time Crisis – Bricks

It’s important to note that the above comment has no intended disrespect to those who provided their vocal talents to this project. There are tons of classic hip-hop albums where the MC’s ripped it, but an instrumental version was released as well (Chronic 2001 anyone?). Yet while we are on the topic of vocals, I have to give credit to Virtue from partyboobytrap. The musical landscape on this album is not an easy one to flow over, so needless to say he had his work cut out for him. With this in mind, upon my first listen the juxtaposition of his vocals over the rest of the music seemed out of place to me. My thoughts were that something just wasn’t meshing correctly. Yet as I gave the album more spins (which I encourage listeners to do), the more in place his vocals sounded. I like the fact that he chooses a topic and sticks to it. I think “Bricks” is my favorite example of that. Although it reminds me of Slug’s verse on the Living Legends track “Nothing Less”, the metaphor of bricks representing different parts of his personality is successfully executed. While I also believe that in general the content of his verses represents a depressed point of view that isn’t my personal cup of tea, it matches the tone of the music really well. At the end of the day, Virtue was given the honor of tackling the truly difficult task of rapping to unorthodox instrumentals, and he did a good job of making his presence felt. His verses provided complex patterns, an expansive vocabulary, and a unique vocal tone, all directed toward expressing his thoughts on a specific topic or message. That takes some major skill, and for that I must give credit where credit is due.

Even though hip-hop is the genre I listen to most, and this album is less centrally focused on hip-hop than any other record I’ve heard from the Fameless Fam, I have to say that it is no doubt my favorite thing that I come across from them yet. They took chances while making a concerted effort to stay true to the identity of their label, and it worked. That’s also not to mention that I am someone who 99% of the time listens to the music before the vocals regardless of genre, and Time Crisis without a doubt provided praiseworthy backdrops. They were well thought out, complex, and required serious skill to seamlessly put together. The end result is an album that broke free from Fameless’ niche in hip-hop, and is very presentable to a variety of people with diverse musical interests.

The physical CD is dropped exclusively on Underground Hip-Hop (UGHH.com) on September 28th

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3 thoughts on “Time Crisis [Album Review]

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