The problem with believing that you know the answer to everything is that you can come across as pretty assuming and arrogant, even if your intentions, like they are in the Sol.illaquists of Sound's Anti debut, As If We Existed, are good. The two vocalists in the group, Swamburger, who raps, and Alexandrah, who sings, are both talented, intelligent, and interesting, and both have a lot to say, not only about music but also about societally constructed stereotypes, oppression, and life in general. Some of it, like in "Black Guy Peace," "Mark It Place," "Ur Turn," and "Property & Malt Liquor," question American culture and problems, and do so quite insightfully and provocatively (in the latter, Swamburger deconstructs, literally, St. Ides beer: "Rearrange Ides to get dies/Take abbreviated St., I say Saint stands for Satan/Rearrange again to get side out of Ides/Now you're on Satan's side," which, yes, is obviously stretching, but he's making a point, and he does it well), but some of it also treads that thin, thin line between pretension and knowledge. This stems from the fact that everything the band does reflects its message, which seems to be, very generally, love: love for yourself (which means abstaining from cigarettes, alcohol, stereotyping, and animal products), your fellow man, and your community. Of course, the problem arises when not everyone agrees with or understands the message, something that the Sol.illaquists are very aware of and that they directly address, both in the fast, intense "Ask Me If I Care" and the neo-soul-esque "Our 2 Cents." In the first, they argue that "this music, when suitably used, is meant to enrich your existence" and that "if you allow the child of great talent to prevail/Seeking a scale of beauty from music like this/Then take time to know what it is," because it's something about which they feel deeply ("Ask me if I care and I'll say I do," the hook goes). In the second, they describe a scenario in which they try to convince a woman to quit smoking, which ends in neither side completely understanding the other. "She wants to indulge/We want to help out" they say, recognizing the other's arguments, but they end the song, and the entire album, with the somewhat obtuse yet resolute statement "Biased opinions will never teach what we know," followed by a cough. Yet still, despite all of this, it's hard to fault the Sol.illaquists for standing up so strongly for what they believe in. They're articulate and provocative but also, often thanks to their production -- which ranges from trip-hoppy to R&B-like and incorporates plenty of live instrumentation along with the MPC talents of DiViNCi -- melodic and soothing. They are prepared to share their art, and their message, with the world, and if that means they get a few detractors then so be it, because anyone with a strong stance on anything is going to run into some problems, and that's a risk they're more than willing to take.
AllMusic Review by Marisa Brown