Hip-hop is a truly international game. If this is the case, Canadian rapper/producer Moka Only and Swiss beat maestro Chief represent the United Nations. Frequent collaborations led to a partnership, including the 2008 tracks, “Do Work” and “Felt Before”. Following that pair of tracks, Moka Only released his album, Lowdown Suite 2 – The Box, on Chief’s label.
And this beautiful teamwork is on display on the duo’s debut album, Crickets. The release is highlighted by a number of strong tracks that feature Moka’s playful, addictive rhymes and smooth delivery. There are also some genuinely funky beats from Chief that utilize loops, samples, and other marks of fine craftsmanship. (Don’t I sound like a used car salesman at this point?) But there is no question about whether you should buy, what Chief and Moka Only are selling. The only true question is how much you will buy into it.
“Me and Chief the best around. We don’t live in the same town even,” Moka offers on “Mess Around”, one of the stronger tracks on the release. And then on “Tropicana”, Moka Only tells us, “I’m crossing borders with a mission.” The promo website trumpets the duo’s “borderless imagination.” This is truly an apt description. The highlight of the album, for me, is the jazzy loop of “Show”. Moka really dives into the beat and grooves with it. It’s a natural partnership and it demonstrates the abilities of two fine craftsmen at work, two seasoned pros.
The album is solid. It won’t knock your socks off, but its strength lies in its consistency. The album doesn’t have a weak song. And in an era of ever-increasing singles, this is an album in every sense of the word and concept. The United Nations of hip-hop deliver a highly enjoyable blend of stellar beats and graphic wordplay.