Album Review: Theory Hazit & Toni Shift – Modern Marvels (2010)

Album Review: Theory Hazit & Toni Shift – Modern Marvels (2010)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Potholes

Over the past few years there has been a slew of MC/producer records, indicating a return to the way-we-used-to-do-it type of album crafting that I’d like to see continue. Theory Hazit, along with Dutch producer Toni Shift, delivers Modern Marvels (Illect), a record as impressive as any of the aforementioned crop.

“The Hurricane” opens with verses from Hazit and scratch montages by the talented DJ Idull. Referencing to the boxer of the same nickname, the song sets the tone of the album quite nicely by proclaiming the power of the emcee/DJ combo. The most unique thing about this song along with the title track (featuring an aggressive WildChild) is what it represents, or doesn’t, in the instance of the album. Primarily known for hard-hitting, witty rhymes, Hazit seems to get this one out of the way to make for some intimate yet easy to follow songs that touch on a wide variety of topics usually unseen from a typical ‘beats and rhymes’ emcee.

The creative apex is “Concealed Weapon”, where Shift provides Theory with a modulated backdrop that Hazit uses to tell a story from the perspective of a child ridiculed by bullies, as well as his own father, for being socially awkward. “Things ain’t been the same…since my mom passed away/I just wanna go away…I just wanna go,” Hazit’s character muses to himself as the song opens. It’s a particularly vulnerable moment The Ruler himself would be proud of.

From “Careless Mister” through to “Uncanny”, Theory Hazit proves himself more than one dimensional, as does Toni Shift, simultaneously adapting and intertwining with each other’s style and manage to create something truly special. Shift’s music is a departure from the rhythmically rigid synthy sound that dominates currently, as well as the boomy kick/burpy bass/eye-blinking snares of today’s underground scene. Seemingly unfazed by the ongoing ‘sound wars’, Shift has crafted a sound that’s well suited for headphones. In fact he actually bridges the two very convincingly by stressing composition and structure, never letting one element overtake everything else. The several sound clips in between songs find ways not to distract from the songs they follow and precede, adding to the listening experience over repeated listens.

Albums like this usually tend to drift lyrically and the music keeps them afloat, or the reverse happens and the music gets stale but the verses keep your attention. But with no real intro or outro to speak of, the 15 songs play well in back to back listens and there is o real drop off in quality between them. You may find yourself liking some songs more than others but as thorough as this record is that’s to be expected.

If you’re familiar with Theory Hazit’s track record, you’ll know after a few listens that with his co-conspirator he’s done it again. No lover of emotive lyricism or refreshing sonic approach should go without listening to this record, as these modern marvels get the job done like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s greatest creations.

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