This landed on my desk a couple of weeks back and ever since it's been on high rotation. Well overdue that I gave it a proper review! :)
In the world of authentic hiphop only the the most select producers and acts seem to be counted as worldwide stars. This includes the likes of Slum Village, DJ Shadow, De La Soul, RJD2, MF Doom, ATCQ, Run DMC and The Beastie Boys. Add to this Los Angeles group Dilated Peoples. One third of this world renowned act is Rakaa Iriscience, their lead emcee who steps into the tricky ground of a debut solo.
On Crown Of Thorns he has primarily brought in a sample sound produced by 7 different producers including The Alchemist (Eminem, Mobb Deep). Opening with gospel backed vocals and hook duties from Aloe ‘I Need A Dollar’ Blacc on the title track, the album does start as it means to go on, cleverly intertwining sonic-prisms accompanied by Rakaa who raps of the myriad cultures taken in whilst on tour. KRS One of 'Sound Of The Police' fame features on ‘Human Nature Now Breathe’ , Rakaa commenting that ‘pollution makes a beautiful haze’ over a flutey instrumental J Dilla might have been raised a knowing smile to. It's not an entirely solo album though as on the old skool soul of CTD fellow members of Dilated Peoples producer Babu and Evidence join in. Aces High meanwhile is another stand out track, Rakaa collaborating with three other mc’s over chunky Alchemist produced riffs.
This is not just a beats album either, the subtle calypso groove and African chants on Rosetta Stone Grove coupled with the thoughtful end track Upstairs give the album a worldwide feel fitting for an artist who has travelled much of the globe.
In the same way that Q-Tips first trip away from A Tribe Called Quest was a success, so here Rakaa treads. A varied album from the top drawer ****