It’s gotta suck to be a dope emcee not affiliated with anyone. Nowadays the only way to make it in this industry is to be guilty by association. Just check the number of artists who have forged gold and platinum sales simply by who they are affiliated with affiliate them with. Take a big name and spawn a crew of emcees off of it and BOOM! At times it must really suck to be Diverse. A Chi-town emcee with credible
skills but no big names to go off of. No labels, indy or major, no affiliations with a bigger name, no nothing, all he has is just skills. Well fortunately for him when it came time to nail down his debut album, One AM, a few guests who respected the kid’s skills stepped up and helped him create one of the most solid albums of the year.

Diverse’s debut feature tracks produced by RJD2 (5), Madlib, and Prefuse 73 as well as guest spots from the likes of Vast Aire, Jean Grae, and Lyrics Born. While this list is rather long, none of the aforementioned guests manage to outshine the kid. Out the gates the RJD2-produced “Certified” showcase Diverse’s stutter step delivery and razor sharp wordplay. To follow up the head snapping “Uprock” further substantiates Diverse’s knack for crafting solid songs. His first taste of emcee adversity is when big dog Vast Aire steps in to toss lyrical bombs on another RJ jewel “Big Game.” Still Diverse shines on co-existing with Vast delivering another ridiculously dope joint. Even the infinite flow of Lyrics Born doesn’t overshadow Diverse on the rambunctious “Explosive” proving that even though the guests are there, they do nothing but assist Diverse in getting his name out there.

It ain’t all about freestyle steeze and jaw dropping wordplay. Diverse can also deliver the introspective joints as well. The cleverly crated “Ain’t Right” showcases Diverse’s storytelling ability as he vividly narrates three tales of people who just can’t get life right. Madlib’s production resounds throughout and the combination is even more enticing after the 3rd or 4th listen. When Diverse breathes life into the windy city on the Jean Grae assisted “Under the Hammer” it becomes more apparent that this kid means business. The two play hot potato with the mic as RJD2’s jewel bangs all around the duo’s description of city life. Melodic xylophones entice Diverse into creating the hypnotic soundscapes of “Leaving” and may cause many a listener to drift into the lands of tranquility. Closing out the album is the Chicago bluesy “In Accordance” as the subtle horns and mellow stylings weave an intricate web of serenity.

Yeah it’s real unfortunate that many emcees only make it because of affiliation and not based off of skills. But it is fortunate when an emcee the caliber of Diverse manages to utilize his larger named help to boast his heavily underrated skills. Maybe after this people will take notice of Diverse and place him amongst the upper echelons of emcees. Guests or no guests, Diverse is definitely a force to be reckoned with and will not drift off as a one-hit wonder. “One AM” may just have been the sleeper of 2003.

8.5/10