Show & A.G., esteemed members of Diggin' In The Crates, first gained notoriety in the early-to-mid '90s
with two critically-acclaimed albums, Runaway
Slave and Goodfellas. Fast
forward to 2008, A.G. (AKA Andre the Giant) has been busy keeping
his formidable rhyme skills intact, having released two independent solo joints
and guest appearing on numerous D.I.T.C.
releases. Show (formerly known as Showbiz) is no slouch either, having
become a sought-after producer, lending his musical talents to other illustrious
members of his crew as well as countless other rappers on the scene.
On Live Hard, Show & A.G. have regrouped after a ten year hiatus to bring listeners
an EP chockfull of New York-style underground beats and rhymes. The songs on
this album are squarely aimed at attracting the current generation of dedicated
rap fans who might have been too young to remember the frenetic joy of "Soul
Clap" or sonic beauty of "Next Level." In addition to converting neophytes
to the D.I.T.C. sound, it still
serves to rekindle their ties with older Hip Hop heads, already in-the-know
when it comes to the boom bap legacy of Show
Overall, Live Hard contains moments of brilliance,
a blissful union of melody and rhythm that capture the D.I.T.C. aesthetic. The album begins with "Business As Usual", a
slow burner of a track composed of a stark piano loop, hard-hitting drums and DJ Premier's patented cuts and scratches.
The song signals the triumphant return of the Bronx-bred team into the
treacherous Hip-Hop landscape; with A.G.
sounding both confident in his lyrical abilities and resolute in bringing the essence
back to his beloved art form.
another noteworthy track that finds A.G.
spitting uplifting lyrics over a buttery smooth and soulful track. The emcee
speaks eloquently about his life experiences and expresses gratitude for having
gained worldwide respect and admiration through their music, from the rough concrete
blocks of the BX to the tropical islands of "Indone-si-a." Other tracks worth a
listen include "Live Hard" (the semi-autobiographical title track) and "The World
Is Listening," a vivid tale that espouses the benefits of speaking the truth.
On other songs, listeners
might feel slightly disappointed by the lack of variety in A.G.'s rhymes and Show's
musical contributions. Although the over-reliance on posse cuts and guest producers
tend to clutter a majority of Hip Hop releases these days, "Live Hard" might
have benefited from a few artistic collaborations. A.G. has a style that can
always serve well to be broken up by another rapper. O.C. is the only other D.I.T.C.
member and rapper present on the album. He provides a much-needed dose of raw energy
and unbridled swagger to "Land of the Free," a noteworthy critique of America's
preoccupation with materialism and greed. Nevertheless, O.C.'s welcome appearance zestful contribution cannot take away
from the song's lackluster production and monotony of A.G.'s flow.
When it comes to
representing D.I.T.C. to the
fullest, Show & A.G. have always
been worthy representatives and unwavering in their quest to bring back truth
and realness to the rap game. Their latest offering is an admirable addition to
the team's catalogue, with thoughtful lyrics and laid-back joints for fans to
enjoy. However, the absence of musical variation is what keeps this EP from
ever being mentioned with the Soul Clap
EP. Let's hope that Show & A.G.
will release a proper full-length very soon, one that truly holds up their