Tanya Morgan

Rubber Souls

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    7
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AllMusic Review by

The oddly named and utterly unique underground hip-hop crew known as Tanya Morgan becomes a duo on this third official effort, with member Ilyas moving on, leaving Von Pea and Donwill to carry on. Hardcore fans of the group already got a hint that things would be A-OK with the drop of their 2011 EP You and What Army, their first duo-era "street release," but this more high-profile album is a bit too "insider" for newcomers, and anyone who isn't already pulling for the group will likely find it too dour to call classic. Key cuts like "For Real," "Eulogy," and the closing masterwork dubbed "The Vehicle" combine bittersweet nostalgia and frustration over "dues paid," and while it is all well-earned (group with a De La Soul vibe and A Tribe Called Quest smarts moves from Cincinnati to Brooklyn, releases two brilliant albums, and still the world won't listen), these cuts certainly benefit from some back-story. With a little history, the introspective cuts come off as triumphant and filled with wit and wisdom, but the booty shakers like the lady-loving "All Em" ("I'm gonna keep an eye on her like Mishka") or the positivity-in-motion number "The Day I" ("I decide my worth/This has gotta work") are much easier to approach. Interesting that production is handed over to 6th Sense with member Von Pea focusing on his lyrics instead, yet the jammed and busy "Pick It Up" captures the sound of the group's debut splendidly, and with the jumpy beat behind "Never Too Much," he gives the backpacker set an "I Got a Man"-type number to cherish. The highlights are numerous and the tone is deep, but consider their more welcoming early efforts before taking on this slow-and-sure grower.

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