Long Beach has a pretty diverse Music Scene, from the followers of Sublime’s “Dope and Partying” Reggae/Ska/Hip Hop melange, Rockabilly, Roots Reggae, Indie Rock, and the Street Stories of Snoop Dogg and The Dogg Pound. “Conscious” Hip Hop i.e. ‘Say No To Dope’, ‘Watch Out For The
Government’, also has a place in the LBC. With a focus on lyrical dexterity, and hard beatsnot necessarily tailored to the Party People, The Visionaries (2Mex, LMNO, Lord Zen, Dannu,KeyKool and DJ Rhettmatic), take a “purist” approach, trying to stay away from the “Money, Cars and Hoes” rhymes of Mainstream Hip Hop. LMNO’s newest solo joint, “Tripping On This Journey”, with up and coming French producer
Astronote, works within that ethos, with varying results.
“Opening Statement” starts off with dramatic Piano Chords, and hard drums for the first minute, before LMNO tells us how he gets down, in a semi-robotic flow :”A hard workin’/always rappin’/ Blackberry textin’/Early wakin’/Internet checkin’/LRG ‘ wearin’/Head shavin’/Creative rap rockin’…”
He spits a long verse, introducing himself for new heads, then lets the track fade out….
“The Gift” features a DJ Premier-like scratched hook from Special Ed’s classic, “I Got It Made”.
More deft wordplay as LMNO thanks his fans: “My unconditionals, I have to thank y’all/For stickin’ it out, through the Flood and the Drought.”
A nice, melodic beat from French producer Astronote (who produces the entire album), but perhaps too similar in tempo and feel
to the intro.
“Hard To Do”–That’s more like it! LMNO spits with a little more passion, over an anthemic-like beat. This beat swings a LOT harder than the first two, with a tight hook from Big Daddy Kane’s classic, “Ain’t No Half Steppin'”.
The DJ work on this album is outstanding, the finest in
Turntablism. A definite head nodder, “Hard To Do” hits you like a strong cup of Coffee.
“Blast Off” drops like an archetypal “West Coast” beat, with Sci-Fi leads and a synth bassline,
punctuated with hand claps. “Fresh out the stone oven, receivin’ no lovin’/Givin’ it out, all of a sudden/Broke Commandments, and the Covenant/A burnt out copy, 3rd Generation dumpin’ it..”
A nice transition from “Hard To Do”, without losing too much momentum.
“All Out” has a DOPE beat, with a loooooong sample from some obscure song, flipped and chopped into a nice riding beat with a piano/live bass motif, reminiscent of some Dr. Dre
productions. LMNO addresses criticisms of his Nasal Flow, and heads who jock other rappers.
A rhyme about staying true to one’s Art, LMNO doesn’t capitalize on the dope production
enough for my taste.
“Rhyme Animal”–Once again, a very dope beat, with great cutz and scratches…LMNO drops some witty punchlines, but, it isn’t very exciting–you don’t have to scream like
Busta Rhymes, but, passion is essential.
“Face to Face”–LMNO’s flow and delivery match the beat well. MORE handclaps, and spacey leads, with a vocoder-like voice floating in the background and a synth bassline. Nice Hook:
“If you don’t say my name, it don’t pertain/ to me, cause where I’m at, we talk Face to Face/Knowin’ the code, got the safe cracked/Say it up front, not behind the back/Chumps do that,”
“Cold Cut”–nice beat, very Blaxploitation-movie soundtrack. The cutz and scratches live up to
the song’s name…Nice lyrics, but, See Above.
“Make Tracks”–more handclaps, no Hi Hats…Track could use a bassline. LMNO’s flow compliments this beat, and he seems almost as hype as he was on “Hard To Do”, which is pretty much the best cut on the album. I’d say this was second best. “This is me, I’m not claimin’ any titles/I’m not givin’ you Music that is Viral.”
Nice line, but, it pretty much
sums up the tone of this Album. Chuck D once said: “Sellin’ out?? I’m TRYING to sell out!”
Meaning, he WANTED people to go buy his record.
“Introducing”–an anthem-like beat and hook, but LMNO’s voice–Nasal and ‘square’ to my ears, hurts the track’s effectiveness.
“The Offering”–BACK to the form of “Hard To Do”, is reminiscent of Jay-Z’s “Dec 4”, and the production similar to a Just Blaze or a Kanye West, with the time stretched vocals…
A nice biographical story rhyme, LMNO would’ve have benefited from sticking to this vibe.
Overall, if you’re a fan of The Visionaries or LMNO, this is for you. Saying that–Hip Hop is a LOT of different vibes, but, the late GURU of Gangstarr once said: “It’s Mostly The Voice”.
I think LMNO’s VOICE undercuts his efforts. A rapper can be ‘conscious’ all day long, spit multi-syllabic flows, and have good punchlines,
but, the rhymes and beats have to have a certain GRIT to them, a certain type of Funk, which most of this album
Album: Tripping On This Journey
Label: Up Above Records
Genre: Hip Hop
Best Cuts: “Hard To Do,” “Make Tracks, ” “Face To Face,” “The Offering”
Dave Williams is a Trumpeter, MC, Songwriter, Producer, and the Musical Director of MBT,
a Long Beach-based Jazz/Funk group.
Note To Readers: The opinions expressed in this review are entirely the views of Dave Williams, and
not LBPP, or anyone else.