There are a few names in Hip Hop you can trust to put out high quality material, and DJ Revolution is surely one of them. With experience on radio, and therefore an ear to what’s hot, as well as sharp skills on a pair of Technics when it comes to cuts and scratches, it’s only right that a group that gets his cosign would live up to it. Enter Malcolm and Martin, really known as KB Imean and Styliztik Jones, and their debut LP, Life Doesn’t Frighten Me.
Not only does DJ Revolution formally present the group to the masses, he also handles all of the production on the album (aside from the lead single “Movement Music” produced by Marco Polo). From start to finish Life Doesn’t Frighten Me is filled with beats to get heads nodding, and classic Hip Hop scratch hooks with astonishingly sharp crossfader skills. Even with someone as talented as Revolution in the background of the project, emcees KB Imean and Styliztik Jones definitely hold their own. The name of the group quickly becomes apparent once one hears the subject matter the two emcees are discussing. From critiques of the public school system (“Lunchtyme Ciphers” featuring Versatile), to Black and Latino unity (“Heritage”), it’s obvious they hope to carry on the messages of the legendary Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. The Black History Month release date only makes the project that much more appropriate.
Tracks that stand out as weak links are non-existent on Life Doesn’t Frighten Me. If anything, a few of the interludes such as the “Lunchtyme Interlude” and “Sell Like An Ace,” slow the project down a bit, but they aren’t long enough that the momentum is completely lost. Break-beat fiends and B-boys will take pleasure in the uptempo “Hustle” and “Do It Again.” The former is a Jazz-influenced joint that gives the emcees a chance to show off their delivery, and the latter is the track where the two emcees fall back and allow Revolution to show people how to make the most out of a mixer.
Lyrical features are minimal, but obviously carefully chosen. Brooklyn’s Torae comes through to assist the lyrical duo on “Bear Witness II,” even though as KB rhymes, “so stop bitchin’, complainin’, translating my language, reincarnated Langston laughin’ at gangstas, poetry in motion paper, pushin’ a blazer, your life ain’t real, its just a felonious caper,” it becomes clear that the two can hold their own just fine. And when left to hold it down on their own, they do just that. “Against The Wall” is the tale of men who feel they’re running out of options, and echo thoughts that most people have certainly felt at some point in their life, especially as Styliztik says things like, “can’t be waiting round for no government assistance, interviews, resumes, I been so persistent, preacher in my ear saying stay away from prison, evil in my other telling me to get a pistol.”
Life Doesn’t Frighten Me is what true Hip Hop heads have been craving. With serious subject matter, social commentary about many aspects of life’s struggles, exemplary lyrical skills from KB Imean and Styliztik Jones, and a strong production effort from Revolution, there’s little to no room for improvement on the album. Just as Jones states on “Blak Kofee,” “no sweet and low in my joe, we don’t go for that,” there are no sugar-coated raps to be found around Malcolm and Martin.