“The stars look so bright / When you come from a city with no lights,” says ST 2 Lettaz on “Y U Mad.” Hunstville, Alabama’s duo G-Side are most certainly a product of their environment, and contrast nicely against a mainstream still focused on bright lights and big cities. Like Meridian, Mississippi’s Big K.R.I.T. or Gasden, Alabama’s Yelawolf, newness and amplifying the once voiceless is an ongoing revolution in Rap right now. G-Side’s latest self-released album, The One…Cohesive has the hustler’s conviction found in Young Jeezy‘s early work, without the lyrics about peddling dope. Rather, Clova and partner ST 2 Lettaz rhyme mostly about hope – between surviving today’s uncertain times, and making it as the Rap voices they’ve been trying to be for over a decade.
As the case with much of the G-Sides catalog, Cohesive is self-released and both charms and disappoints with its rawness. The crew’s extended family does not all possess the same naturally gifted abilities they have, evident the rushed busy-ness of “Never.” It’s a crowded house, and while the album enforces a family environment, it’s easy to get lost in the personnel. Still, the musicality allowed by having talented singers, emcees and instrument players in one place makes this arguably minor album appear major. As was the case with 2008’s Starshipz & Rocketz, the sound employed by G-Side and production team Block Beataz is as spacey as their rhymes. “Pictures,” a slow motion track with a light dash of female Pop vocal samples feels like the sexual rhythms that the duo and GMane are chronicling. Similarly, “Nat Geo” has a worldly feel, with hard, dramatic percussion and soft background vocals. Through this diverse soundscape, G-Side is able to project their surroundings on the world. Yes, dozens of Rap songs are recorded daily, about packing two Magnums – one for a pocket and one for the kick-panel, but on Cohesive, it’s felt. Perhaps because Huntsville is just now getting attention, ST 2 Lettaz and Yung Clova are forced to do more to explain their world, or why the stakes are just so damn high. While they do an excellent job, their entourage and production add deep reinforcement.
“Nowadays, everybody’s a critic / Or they competition / It’s so complicated / You can’t even compliment me / When I refuse to compromise / My composition / To coincide / With whatever the common trend is,” rhymes ST on the album’s stand-out, “Y U Mad.” Much of this album is about just that. It’s about a crowded industry, and the importance of home, and trying to leave it. Largely influenced by Tupac bars and west coast Funk, “Jones” captures. “I know we’re about to blow, please stay away.” Proving it that they can do it themselves, G-Side has a point.
With a plethora of attitudes, sounds and revelations, G-Side’s latest album is indeed Cohesive. The group’s unpredicatability and totally unique style is grassroots Hip Hop at its best. This is the type of honesty and authenticity Rap’s top mainstream artists are recently attempting, but as the group lyrically gives you a tour of their journey and surroundings, you cannot help but put a fist up, in slow motion.