Quietly - and the key word is quietly - CunninLynguists have become one of the
most consistent groups in hip-hop. 15 years ago the Kentucky residents likely
would have been a well known group, but today they stick to the independent
scene despite their considerable appeal to the average listener out there.
Appropriately, the duo plus one takes after the South's original preeminent
group the Geto Boys in their
constantly rotating line up. But for the second straight album, mainstays Kno and Deacon The Villain are joined by Natti.
Much like A Piece
of Strange, Dirty Acres is increasingly refined and mature. The clowning
around on Will Rap For Food and Southernunderground is all but gone, as
are the up-tempo beats. Gone are fire filled tracks like The South, replaced by a serious and often somber tone. That isn't
to say this shit is gonna make you depressed, think more the latter half of ATLiens, that type of vibe.
Appropriately, Dungeon Family member
and frequent Outkast guest Big Rube starts off the album with a
signature spoken word piece. Rube
may set it off thematically but producer extraordinaire Kno sets it off sonically with the adrenaline-filled Valley of Death.
natives Natti and Deacon turn a critical but loving eye on their home state
with K.K.K.Y., punctuated by Kno's melodic production. The producer
later takes a now rare turn on the mic and addresses his own birthplace on Georgia. Again, criticism is abound as Kno takes a poignant look as the racism
and bloodshed that has turned the clay red. A couple of high profile Southern
lyricists stop through and bless a couple of the LP's standout tracks. Devin The Dude joins the CLs to chase the fairer sex on Wonderful, which lives up to its
billing. Little Brother's Phonte Coleman is the real show stealer
though, lending his usual luminous lyrics to Yellow Lines. "I cordially
invite you to take a ride in my thoughts/switch memory lanes while we dream and
wander and/in return I'll strip my inhibitions and go skinny dipping in your
stream of consciousness."
As usual, there are a couple instrumental interludes
peppered throughout for Kno to
further show off his expertise behind the boards. Summer's Gone may not be noted as an interlude but clocking in at a
minute and a half it isn't a full song. This is very unfortunate because the
song deserves another two minutes, it feels like it ends just as soon as it
gets started. The whole LP kinda gets that feel when it finishes with two of
the best songs. Surely there is nothing wrong with leaving you thirsting for
more, but damn, this one hurt. Those two songs in question are Things I Dream and Mexico. The former the icing
on the cake here with the strings constantly building to a frantic pace and the
Moody Blues sample, incredible
leaves me feeling just like A Piece of
Strange did; great album but I miss the "old" thugged-out-since-cub scouts CunningLynguists. Nevertheless, I'm
never one to penalize a group for evolving just because I don't enjoy their new
music quite as much. Especially when it's remarkable stuff. Even in their new
direction - as good as it is - there is some room for improvement. Dirty Acres could use a little more
dirt, a little more fire. More Valley of
Death and less The Park. When
tracks like The Park and Dance For Me roll around (which aren't
the strongest tracks), the album tends to drag a bit. Regardless, minor qualms
aside, these guys deserve your money...not just your food.