If the Hieroglyphics crews' wildly inconsistent discography proves anything, it proves you can count on them to deliver one thing -- dope debuts. However, from being too experimental (Del's Both Sides of the Brain), missing in action (Casual), or just woefully inept (Souls' Trilogy), Oaktown's finest have seen their stock as individual artists, and as a crew, plummet. With history on his side, though, the last Boy Scout of Hieroglyphics, Pep Love, has finally stepped out of the shadows with his rejuvenating debut Ascension. For those who yearn for uplifting and positive hip-hop, then Love is your kind of emcee, as Ascension yearns to inspire. Eschewing material greed and trivial matters, Love seeks to reach higher levels of consciousness, and wants you to join him on this self-help trek. Yet, what separates Love from other pulpit prophesiers is that he drops knowledge ("Grime and Grit" and "U.S.") without sounding overly preachy. Likewise, Love's pleas for responsibility ("What You Are," "A-Plus") and the ode to young love, "T.A.M.I.," in an otherwise irresponsible genre are utterly refreshing. While Ascension is a notch below the classic debuts delivered by Love's more established teammates, it is a critical building block, as it generates renewed faith in the Hiero collective. As "Act-Phenom" reiterates, Ascension "is a ritual you will enjoy."
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AllMusic Review by Matt Conaway
feat: The Grouch