As the ice age was reaching its coldest temperatures in 2001, two individuals inhaled the frigid air and exhaled a fresh breath that warmed the hip-hop climate. It was unspoken, but it was heard. Asheru & Blue Black’s “Soon Come” captured the jazzy bohemian vibe of Tribe or Digable Planets better than anyone had in years. The medicine of their message was sugar coated by their true-school aesthetic and old-school passion; it filled your head with thoughts without you knowing, and made you dance without subscribing to the standard prescription. Without a follow up to soon come, the Unspoken Heard played the background over the next couple years while J-Live and El Da Sensei kept the 7 Heads name strong.

“48 Months” is a collection of works done before “Soon Come” came; 4 years worth to be exact. Included in this vault-emptying effort are some tracks from their rare “Cosmology EP.” Acting as an indication of their career to this point, each sequential track (on my promo anyway), is better than the last. Where “It’s About Time” is raw and unpolished, “Mid-Atlantic” uses a similar template but produces much better results. “Nigga Like Me” caps it off as Asheru and Blue Black trade 8 bar verses and display great chemistry over a dope yet understated beat.

Other well-known classics are featured here as well. Perhaps the most notorious is the seminal old-school party jam “Jamboree.” Jazzy horns cover a constant chattering of people in the background, which was not a sound effect but the result of some eleven people in the booth. Its companion piece “Soul Jamboree” is, well, a more soulful version of the original. It’s dope too. “Smiley (The Woh Woh Song)” gets a similar treatment when the ill original is flipped as “Smiley (Soul Dub version).” I think ‘hip-house version’ would have been more appropriate, it is nice either way though. Another classic 12″ featured is “Better,” still their hardest track to date. Another standout 12″ was the Djinji Brown production, “The Music.” The island-flavoured jam features a line that best sums the approach of the duo: “hip hop will never leave its rightful rulers /that’s why I make music for b-boys and old-schoolers.”

The only guest spots here are from J-Live and Grap Luva, both on two songs, both together. “Trackrunners” is cool, but “How Ya Livin” is 7 plus minutes of chilled-out posse cut goodness. I should also mention “Black Moses,” the only new track that stands as a precursor to Asheru’s upcoming solo LP. Its type-ill, the distorted vocals fit the driving beat perfectly. As anyone who is familiar with the DC duo will tell you, Asheru and Blue Black are a pleasure to listen to. “48 Hours” is no exception.