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Without any major-label hype, or crew affiliation, Encore has still managed to create quite a buzz for himself (no small feat these days). The ripples that his handful of underground singles generated were significantly intensified by his Rakim-like verbal explosion, "Waterworld," on Prince Paul and the Automator's critically acclaimed Handsome Boy Modeling School project.

Encore's sheer lyrical dexterity is engraved into every verse of his debut, Self-Preservation, on which he effortlessly conjures up images of a time when emceeing was in its purest form. The man behind the music, Architect, follows suit, as his crisp drum loops and pristine samples show very little evidence of contemporary influence. The contentious "Love and Hate" reiterates Encore's traditionalist convictions, as he paints an alternately affectionate and condemning mural of hip-hop, while ".084" reveals how an arrest for DUI compelled Encore to re-evaluate his lifestyle and, in turn, led him to embrace the Islamic faith. His debut record proves that he is one of the most promising MC's to emerge from the flourishing Bay Area hip-hop scene.

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