Picture a high school cypher. A friend beat-boxes or pounds on lunch tables while others crowd around hopeful emcees. Every high school has a slew of aspiring rhymers mirroring this image, but one such group in Ohio had a lineup that would eventually plant flags all over the Hip Hop globe. Back then, in the mid ’90s, Copywrite, Camu Tao, RJD2, Tage Future and Jakki Da Motamouth formed an alliance known as MHz. Now, more than a decade later, the crew has reemerged as MHz Legacy, dropping their self-titled debut after many tribulations and much anticipation.
If nothing else, the group has persevered. While each individual member has gone through a series of life’s peaks and valleys, the group has also suffered the loss of Camu Tao. “We’re here,” Copy says as “Mass Temple” begins. “Fashionably late, by only 14 years…. Meanwhile, we lost a brother.” With such a pronounced loss, the group managed to pick up the pieces, finally releasing a collaborative effort (including Camu). While the project has bright spots, one can also find missteps along their journey back to this get-together.
It should be noted that they didn’t come back alone. Instead, they gathered up more friends to join their reunion party. Atmosphere’s Slug brings a verse and hook to “Satisfied,” Blu drops a strong addition to “Yellow + Blue,” Ill Bill and Slaine drop by on “Addictionary” and Danny Brown brings an extraterrestrial verse to “Spaceship.” Also, the group benefits from diverse production. This comes by way of !llmind’s soulful approach on “Soul Train (of Thought),” which also features Oh No and Marco Polo’s more potent drums on “Obituary.”
Still, while in good company, the group shines on its own as well, particularly on the mournful ode to Camu, “Tero Smith” (produced by RJD2) and the more upbeat (RJD2 produced) “Out of Room.” While the album is solid because of these highlights, it doesn’t quite stand out beyond this. The aforementioned highpoints simply don’t erase the less stellar “Hindsight,” “Columbus Diss Patch,” “Four Player Mode” or “Somewhere.”
Yes, the group has persevered and their reunion can lead to greater albums if they decide to continue on this journey together. For now, MHz Legacy fits the group’s journey quite well with strong highlights and a few struggles along the way. All that said, their journey doesn’t have to be over and the future for this longtime alliance could be even brighter, with this album being a guiding light of hope.