Hezekiah’s Conscious Porn excels through it’s progressive production and organic collaborations. Dres (from Da Beatnik’s) outlandish adlibs and Me So Horny’s (Hez’s horn section) cover of James Brown’s “Blues and Pants” provides ample distinction from Notorious B.I.G.'s‘ “Just Playing,” allowing Hezekiah to kick bars about today’s R&B queens without sounding like another hijacked remake of Biggie's classic. The same can be said for the emphatic snare and sublime arrangement behind Raheem DeVaughn’s uncanny cover of Luther Vandross’s “If This World Were Mine,” where Hez drops some of the LPs most apropos lines: “I’m forever growing / Some hate it some love it / Some artists don’t nothing really change but their album cover.”
“Movers + Shakers” featuring Poindexter wins with it’s trippy electric strings and anthemic orchestration despite the lyrical contradiction of deriding industry “whining / bitching” on the first verse then actually whining and bitching about the industry on the last. Fortunately, that brief blemish is quickly forgotten once “The Clinic’s” marching snare kicks in seamlessly and Hezekiah connects easily with vividly relatable depictions of the consequences of promiscuity -- AIDS tests and abortions -- that nicely tap into the conscience of Conscious Porn.
Tu Phace, Criss Harris and Peedi Crakk join Hezekiah in crafting a boisterously retro posse cut with hop-step snares and sick scratches followed by “Here’s To The World’s” B-boy ready beat, ingeniously placed whistles and awesome Aaron Livingston guest appearance, fulfilling the Porn the half of the album title. “Fired Up” featuring Talib Kweli and Bahamadia is a mediocre offering that does little more than fill the space between “Raining” and the Cody Chestnutt-featured “What Kind Of Cool” -- two stellar tracks bringing in Conscious Porn’s sultry conclusion.
What’s most impressive about Conscious Porn is it’s sonic consistency and quality guest appearances. Hezekiah conducts the album like he’s operating a high speed TGV train through the Europe, bobbing and weaving through cities and countryside, snares and soul samples. He embraces everything from 20s swing music to James Brown break-beats to Neo-Soul harmonies and high hats.
Stand out track, “All Rays” is as inspired in mood as it is in content, despite a potentially dope, yet infuriating miscalculation on one of it’s best bars: “Homey let me take you to school / You out for president’s to represent you / Aight then / That means you’re out for Ones, Fives, Twenties and Tens / Shit / Give me the Fifties man / Give me the Hundreds / That means I’m out for dead generals and dead scientists.” Whatever school he’s teaching clearly forgot that Ulysses S. Grant is on the 50 dollar bill and he was both a general and President of the United States, like George Washington, leaving a shrewd metaphor shrouded in arrogance instead of accuracy, which unfortunately is the biggest drawback to the album as a whole: the rhymes aren’t as potent as the production.
From mic to plug, Conscious Porn is a quality listen and arguably the best album of Hezekiah’s career. He continues to push the margins on his production by placing a premium on progression. Excluding the underwhelming “Fired Up” and “She Male” and the four unnecessary skits that add clarity to the salacious album title yet completely stunt it’s flow, Conscious Porn succeeds on all fronts. He’s not reinventing the wheel on this one, but he certainly made sure he threw some rims on it.