Moka Only exists somewhere between the snow sports rap Western Canada is famous for and an overly chilled-out version of the mighty Mos Def’s “Boogie Man.” With 41 solo albums (23 since 2007), this prolific MC churns out original verses and production credits at a rate that would make even the most ambitious mixtape rappers shudder. As a way to welcome spring to the nasty Northwest, the Vancouver-based MC began to churn out the Airport albums in 2007. Initially, the projects were inspired by photos he took at airports bouncing around on tour. During the half-hour not-so-electric relaxation heist that is Airport 5, Moka Only sticks to his guns. That is, as he puts it in the album’s single, “How you get people listening.”
The fifth installment in Moka’s Airport series of albums is high-flying doze-off rap.
If only in-flight turbulence and the crying babies hummed so gently. On the single,“Grab Grab Grab,” Moka proclaims that his “Flow is never drab/ If you know about vocab,” while making a whisper of a call-to-dope-rap-action. On “I Do” he stresses his productivity, while also underscores this release’s flaw, “Do a song every night/ More than a pile of words.” His words, aren’t quite piles, but they certainly don’t serve a purpose as prose.
Beats along the release’s runway boast an assortment of spacey samples, brass jaunts, ivory riffs and almost invisible guitar plucks in a grainy, under-mastered casing. The album’s best song, “Brand Nu Shine” even includes a pencil-to-paper jotting loop. Rapping about rapping doesn’t always have to sound so dull and this track, featuring Souls of Mischief’s Opio, proves that. Moka even comes candid in his verse, “Man I get paid for being all kinda weird/ But if the Chuck Taylor fits…”
Moka maintains a smooth tone and calm demeanor throughout this 30-minute stopover of an album, aside from “ROCK ON!” and “Long Range.” Here he takes a few passive stabs towards his contemporaries. As little as these tracks differ in the DNA of the dozen, the pace change is almost jarring when the ride is so short. If Moka is already eight songs down the “listening to crickets” path, he should stick to the peddle-in-the-barrel guns.
Airport 5 is easy listening Hip-Hop. It’s soft rap. At times it edges on becoming elevator rap and at other times it’s almost profound in its simplicity. In the end, you’re back before you realize you left. It’s more of a brief blip on the radar than any extended experience. Just try not to fall asleep on the way.