Lone Catalysts

Hip Hop

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If there was a given going into Lone Catalysts' debut for their own label, it was the expert beat-making capabilities of J. Rawls, and he did not disappoint on Hip Hop. Tight, metronomic rhythms and stark, head-nodding beats collide with an undertow of foggy, palliative jazz samples ("The Pro's," "Settle the Score," the speculative indie hit "If Hip Hop Was a Crime," and the cool "Due Process" with Kweli and Rubix), so the music goes down smoothly, but it keeps kicking once it's down. More of an unknown was J. Sands' skills on the microphone, and, if his technique wasn't particularly distinctive, the emcee made up for a vaguely prosaic rhyme style with the poise and self-assurance of his rhymes. His lyrics concentrate almost entirely on the hip-hop lifestyle, so while the dexterity of his words refused to be slept on, their self-referential nature ensured that the album would remain an underground sleeper. As the title indicates, the duo comes from the no frills, straight-to-the-essence old-school of rap, so there is nothing flashy or exceptional about Hip Hop; but it is a rock-solid first effort on which its pair of Lone Catalysts mix an obvious sense of love for the game with a laidback but perceptible prod against the staid predispositions of rap.

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