1.8.7. Mortals

Ready 4 Combat

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When people think of gangsta rap, the first region that comes to mind is the West Coast. But numerous gangsta rappers have also come from the South and the Midwest. In 2000, one of the more obscure gangsta releases that came from the Midwest was Ready 4 Combat, the debut album by Michigan sextet 1.8.7. Mortals. With direct or indirect influences ranging from Tupac Shakur to Spice 1, the group delivers a generally decent, if conventional and slightly uneven, CD that focuses on gangsta rap's usual subject matter -- selling drugs, promiscuous sex, guns, etc. The thing that makes Ready 4 Combat gangsta rap is the first person format -- while a non-gangsta MC might rap in the third person about crime and violence in the inner city, the members of 1.8.7. Mortals provide first-person accounts of thug life. Of course, that sort of thing was hardly groundbreaking by 2000 standards -- and if you have listened to gangsta rap extensively, you won't find tunes like "It's Time to Flex" and "Worldwide" to be innovative. Nonetheless, 1.8.7. Mortals can have a way with a hook when it wants to; that is evident whether the Midwesterners are rapping over Rose Royce's "I Wanna Get Next to You" on "1.8.7. Mortals" or sampling Grandmaster Flash's 1982 masterpiece "The Message" on "In My Ride." Ready 4 Combat doesn't reinvent the wheel or point hardcore rap in any new directions, but while the CD falls short of mind-blowing, the grooves are catchy and infectious more often than not.

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