Hard 2 Obtain

Ism & Blues

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In early 1994, H2O caught fire with its smash backpacker single "LI Groove," a tune that affirmed through a Rakim sample that the trio represented "New York, from Long Island." On the strength of H20's newfound respect among hip-hop's cypher legions, H2O dropped Ism and Blues to explore three true loves: weed, women, and hip-hop. The album reflects this triple love affair, combining hazy funk and jazz echoes with a rapper's delight format. MCs Taste and DL are B-Boys in the traditional sense, playing off each other nicely with call and response rhymes. "LI Groove" may be H20's only real claim-to-fame track but Ism and Blues does contain a few other hidden highlights. The horn-heavy "Ghetto Diamond" is a fortified ode to beautiful women of a hip-hop persuasion and "Heels Without Souls" fuses hip-hop and the R&B-styled vocals of Vinia Mojica with some flair. A propensity towards repetitive rhymes bogs this album down slightly and, despite worthy efforts, in the end H2O is found to be overmatched in the hip-hop game. This largely slept-on album also features a guest appearance from New Jersey underground stalwarts the Artifacts.

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