Though certainly a contentious hypothesis, the claim has been made by some that hip-hop represents the greatest work in the vernacular since James Joyce channeled Finnegans Wake through his pen. If that claim has any validity at all it is because of a group like Haiku D'Etat, the L.A. trio consisting of longtime compatriots Aceyalone and Mikah 9 of the semi-legendary Freestyle Fellowship and Abstract Rude of Abstract Tribe Unique, legitimate poets if ever rap has spawned them. Any nonbeliever need only listen to the brilliant "Non Compos Mentis" -- surely one of the singles of 1999, regardless of genre -- to see the light, then head on to the rest of the album to revivify one's faith entirely. The trio is not, as Abstract Rude points out on the opening title track, an assemblage of "punch line type" lyricists, but rather top of the line wordsmiths with an astonishing range that, nevertheless, remains non-didactic, easygoing, and whimsical. Haiku D'Etat is as strong as, if not stronger than, any previous effort from the Freestyle Fellowship diaspora, hopping from heady, psychotropic high to hallucinogenic higher, from 'shroomed-up cuts ("Studio Street Stage") to dub-heavy, smoked-out ambience ("Los Dangerous," "Pro Tool Robots"). It is both interdimensional and outer space age, all the while keeping a conscientious grip on reality ("Wants Vs. Needs" confronts the rap community's biggest Achilles heel, materialism). There are battle-style bouts of braggadocio ("Firecracker," "Other MC's") as well, though Haiku D'Etat takes the traditional form so far beyond the norm as to seem unconnected to the convention at all, and there are paeans to hip-hop ("Still Rappin") so melodious and mellow they might as well be floating. The musical backdrop actually maintains the same high standard as the rhyming, something that had occasionally plagued past efforts from the Project Blowed crew. Haiku D'Etat isn't merely advanced-placement rapping, it is the master class. Abstract Rude at one point breaks it down thusly: "MCs sound like we sounded last year." But really he's being far too modest.
AllMusic Review by Stanton Swihart