Perceptionists, Big Pooh, Grand Agent, Earatik Statik -

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Mr. Lif and Akrobatik are two of the most intelligent emcees in hip-hop, and two of the dopest. Luckily for us, they also happen to be good friends. Along with DJ Fakts One, they have formed the Perceptionists and are dropping some "Black Dialogue" on the world. Backed by beats from El-P, Willie Evans Jr, Cyrus, Camu Tao and Fakts, Lif and Ak assault the senses with intelligent, poignant observations (title track, "Memorial Day"), while keeping their sense of humor ("Career Finders" f. Humpty Hump). They even branch out and write "Live Letters" and "Party Hard" with great success. An expectedly excellent album deeply needed to reach the masses...While their aggressive styles were similar, I always thought Jus Allah and Vinnie Paz were necessary compliments to one another. Once Jus split in their messy divorce, Paz was very exposed on his own, only saved by Stoupe's excellent production. I always thought Jus would fair better on his own. Because of that, I was very interested in hearing how he would fair on his debut "All Fates Have Changed." After several listens all I can say is I wish I would have never heard it. With nothing but flat, boring beats, Jus Allah is exposed as the terrible emcee he apparently is. His delivery is painfully one dimensional, border lining on straight amateur, and much like Paz he switches between boasting his righteousness and making unoriginal threats of violence. He even spits the same verse two songs in a row (I don't care if they are bonus tracks, it is still unacceptable). I rarely ever say this, but the album is so bad I feel embarrassed for him. Damn...When Little Brother first had their buzz going doubters and haters were quick to dismiss them as a one man show (9th Wonder). A side project later (Foreign Exchange), and many were ready to agree they were wrong (Phonte was clearly dope). But what about the third of the trio? People just kept sleeping on Big Pooh, but will they really be able to after Sleepers? Pooh wastes no time putting doubters on blast with the energetic "I Don't Care." Though the song isn't indicative of the vibe throughout the album as 9th Wonder and Khrysis keep things pretty smooth and soulful. While 9th in particular brings the illness ("Scars," "Strongest Man," "Between The Lines"), Pooh proves yet again he has no problem keeping up. Ironically enough, this album is being slept on in '05. Cause it is one of the stronger albums to drop this year and no one seems to be talking about it...Grand Agent is pretty much just your average emcee, but that is not what he'd like you to believe. Where Jay-Z will tell you he is the best while proving it, Grand Agent will just tell you and doesn't really back it up at all. That isn't to say he isn't capable of good things, he has shown plenty of skill on his previous LP's. "Under The Circumstances" sees GA teaming up with Madlib's lil' bro Oh No for 10 tracks. With Oh No manning the boards Grand Agent doesn't seem too concerned about bringing his A game. To make matters worse, his femcee prodigy Liv L'Raynge is all over the EP with her awful voice. On the bright side Oh No does provide some stellar beats such as "Ohh-La-Lah" or "LA Confidential." Nothing to write home about here kiddies...After years of due paying in the Chi-Town's underground circuit, the trio known as Earatik Statik finally delivers their debut album. "Feelin' Earatik" is good, solid hip-hop but in the oversaturated market it probably won't have the legs to stay in your rotation. Now if there were more cuts like "Makin' Moves" or "Keep Rockin'" I'd be singing a different tune. But after hearing Akrobatik outclass Abstruss and Celo, I'd prefer to give the Perceptionists album some burn. Still, its worth a few spins...

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