Canadian underground rappers Josh Martinez and AWOL One don't really collaborate on Splitsville: aside from shared verses on the title track, each rapper sticks to his own tracks. (The press kit for the album calls it a "double EP" for this reason.) The point of commonality is DJ Moves, who provides the beats for all 14 songs, but even with a producer in common, this is definitely an album of two halves. Martinez's six songs are self-described "emo rap," featuring light, almost pastoral settings heavy on the atmospheric keyboards and ambient, jazzy samples and lyrics about the hassles of the music business and the difficulty of romantic relationships. Martinez has never pretended to be a thug, but songs like "Raindance" (featuring a Kanye West-style mutated soul diva sample as its main backing) are as emotionally unguarded and self-effacing as contemporary hip-hop gets. AWOL One's material is only marginally heavier, featuring oddities like "Van to Whittier," a completely wigged-out piece of P-Funk weirdness featuring a rap that sounds like it was performed by an Elvis impersonator. "Like 2 Live" and "Wanted and Needed" are more traditional showcases for AWOL One's deep voice and conversational flow, set to skeletal, lazily bobbing and weaving tracks, while "Shake Yer Eywind" goes druggily psychedelic in the style of U.K. indie acts like Super Furry Animals or the Beta Band. Overall, Splitsville seems designed to give both Martinez and AWOL One a low-pressure place for stylistic experimentation, and both make the most of the opportunity.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason