It’s not always easy to be a hip hop fan. As disappointing releases pile up alongside mediocre new-comers, bland endeavors, failed crossovers, fall-offs, janky fads and general bullshit, hip hop in 2010 can be a frustrating affair for long time heads. Thankfully just when uncontrollable nostalgia for eras gone and burn-out seem unavoidable, a release comes to remind you why you keep giving new releases a chance. Super Chron Flight Brothers’ Cape Verde is one of those. While far from perfect, the high-points and overall quality of music on the album make a listener proud to keep up with hip hop.
Billy Woods and Priviledge share microphone duties with complementary styles. Even without unique flows or deliveries, the two rhymers could probably get by with their opposite high-pitch and low grumble bars. Many rappers are successful with far less. Thankfully though, the men spit complex rhymes soaked in wit and concept (i.e. “Hansel and Gretel in child protection,” “They have the last thing you need, and it only costs everything you have,” and “The most beautiful thing in this world is a fool-proof plan / could have fooled me fam / famous last words / like lets pulls these grams”). Using a series of television show samples ranging from The Wonder Years to Looney Tunes and The O’Reilly Factor, the lyrics touch on moods and topics as far ranging as urban crime, getting stoned, corrupt politics, breakfast cereals and the clowns cluttering the current rap world. It’s easy to zone out during the album, but sharp-tongued intelligence rewards a close listen.
As nice as the rapping is, the beats on Cape Verde might be even more impressive. Producers BOND and Willie Green drop grimy melodies perfectly suited to the emcees’ talents. Horns shake the dirt off drums and strings slide across the gutter-ready bass. By the time the first track, single “Reggie Miller”, ends, you’ll be convinced of a layered aesthetic equal parts catchy and raw. “100 Feet of Cold Dirt” exemplifies how well the rappers and producers work together as tales of despair and danger get placed across swirling horns and punctuated with a reggae-call on the chorus.
There are a few places where the album stumbles however. Not all of the songs were recorded with a connection to the television channel theme, hindering overall cohesion. It’s not a concept album, and it can become obnoxious with how closely it flirts with the idea. And as I always find, the skits/scene samples become tedious far before the music does. Similarly, the disc is a bit long with enough moments that could be cut to make a harder-hitting play.
I’ll admit to having slept on the first releases from Brooklyn-based Super Chron Flight Brothers and Backwoodz Studioz. This disc bangs like an alarm clock tricked out with subwoofers though, and I’m awake now. On the back of its strong beats, the album delivers well-worded realism demanding attention.