Being an emcee in Chicago can be a gift and a curse these days; a gift because
the Windy City is getting so much attention due to a new breed of
almost-conscious lyricists like Kanye West, Lupe
, and Rhymefest, a curse because it may be hard
to grab a piece of that spotlight with such big personalities taking up so much
of it.  These being the circumstances it can only be a good thing that
underground luminary Capital D has already been building a
name for himself as one half of group All Natural, as well as
collaborating with The Molemen for the Writer’s Block
album, on top of his own solo projects.

One of Capital D’s gifts in the past has been his ability
to pull of variety of sounds, and this record is no different. From the Far
Eastern strings of the title track to the soulful love song Rock Me,
Cap D is able to prevail by being himself. From the onset, as
the “Intro”
blends into the previously aforementioned “Return of the Renegade,” his mellow
monotone is deadly serious as he expounds on his specific place in Hip Hop
while lines like “I rock it for the heads that love the hardcore/I rock it
for the babies out in Darfur
” are incredibly telling, both about Cap
as a rapper, and a person.  

While production is handled by J.Rawls, Maker,
Yuani, Ozone, and All Natural
collaborator Tone B. Nimble, it’s Cap D
himself providing one of the illest joints on the record. This track, “The Answer,”
features underground mainstay OneBeLo and a beat that can only
be seen as a homage to early Wu-Tang tracks – complete with
kung fu samples, a dusty vibe and razor sharp lyricism. While some emcees can
end up only sounding truly inspired when they have another artist on the
track forcing them to step it up, Cap refuses to fall into
this trap and, remarkably, is one of the few cases I’ve ever seen the reverse
being true. Case in point, fellow Chi-town native and blue collar
representative Rhymefest is an artist I have always
found extremely mediocre; but his verse on “Destiny,” delivered with
conviction over a jazzy little number, might make me change my mind. (ed’s
note: ‘Fest is ill, change your mind)

All the people involved in making this record happen should
be applauded for bringing together such a cohesive project with so many
people involved. Today’s Hip Hop can often seem very scatterbrained as a
finished product, where albums can end up sounding more like a collection of
songs than a singular work as an album, and I suppose not having so-called “hit
singles” could be one big advantage to the underground artist in this sense. In
fact, while some may say that this record’s vibe is monotonous, I say that the
album’s one low point is the deviation from it with the final song, “Adrenaline Rush.”
Cap D’s lyrics are superb, as always, but after 13 tracks of
laid back production and gritty poetry it just doesn’t seem to work, and sounds
like he’s trying way too hard. For those wanting intelligent Hip Hop over true
school boom bap this disc will fulfill and definitely stand up to repeated