Album Review: Sapient – Letterhead (2009)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Potholes
Sapient has been a member of the underground hip-hop collective, Sandpeople, since its debut album. Ever since then he has been recording with Sandpeople, as part of the duo Debaser (with label-mate Ethic), and as a solo artist. Originally billed as a lyrical emcee, Sapient proved his talents on the microphone through his contributions to Sandpeople’s albums and his solo debut, Dry Puddles. However, he has grown a tremendous amount since his beginnings. While recording with Debaser, Sapient also handled much of the production, incorporating various sounds into his work.
Letterhead is a good example of the growth that Sapient has undergone since his beginnings with Sandpeople. His lyrical style is at times vicious and hard-hitting, but he is a versatile enough emcee that he can just as easily sit back on a track and rhyme with a cooled out edge. On “Stay Connected” Sapient addresses society’s dependency on technology in order to (surprise!) stay connected. Where the lyrics falter at times with a lack of attention-grabbing topics (there’s quite a few boasts about how Sapient just kills it), the album is uplifted by the quality production.
Not only are the beats intriguing, but also they are also really fun. Synths flow over catchy percussion tracks, sometimes in a way that is actually rather unexpected. The production also works because it unifies the album very well, there seems to be a central style from which the album evolves, creating a very complete feeling overall. In addition, there are some spoken background noises (think early Eminem/Dre productions) that add a biting wit and humor to certain tracks. Other tracks are ‘souled-out’ with singers leaving memorable hooks throughout.
While he certainly has a lyrical style that matches some of the top rappers in the underground, Sapient may not actually be the most entertaining emcee when it comes down to what he is actually saying (the content). But Letterhead is a tightly constructed and thoroughly interesting album, and a very nice addition to Sandpeople’s label.