"I just wanna bring my people a little closer to God," raps Manchild in "Next Door," and both he and DJ Dust (who handles most of the album's production) deserve credit for conveying this Christian message with first-rate music. Backbreakanomics opens with an introduction by Atlanta radio DJ Marcel, followed by "Breathe Slow," the lead single and one of the album's most accessible tracks, with Jax and Flux from Binkis Recs providing vocal assistance on the hooks and bridge. Pigeon John and Blueprint contribute vocals to the next track, "Planes and Trains," which also features some infectious guitar work. Both this song and the next, "Afterlife" (a reprise of the previously released "My Life"), demonstrate that Mars Ill's forte is creating catchy music that balances a sometimes dark and heavy-hearted (but not too heavy-handed) sound with the forceful delivery of a positive, uplifting, lyrical message that keeps the songs from getting too melancholy. Mars Ill address serious topics on songs such as "Inside Out," which is about finding redemption, and "Alpha Male," which is an acerbic attack on misogyny and abusiveness. Mars Ill have their witty moments, just in case you thought they were too solemn or preachy, and they also criticize the glossiness and shallowness of popular music, just in case you forgot that they were an underground rap group. Some songs have a smoother lyrical flow than others and some of Dust's solo cuts are more interesting than others; but, overall, the quality of this album is quite high.
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AllMusic Review by Todd Kristel