Philly hip-hop outfit Writtenhouse was a few finishing touches away from completing their debut LP when everything suddenly changed. Close to 90 percent done with recording their studio of choice was robbed, and all progress was lost. They were left with no choice than to start an entirely new project, and a few months later the release is here as While You Were Sleeping.
Much of what Writtenhouse takes pride in is their stage presence and ability to put on a rockin’ live show. In an interview with Philadelphia Weekly, head MC Charlie K said the album was a semi-complete picture of who they are as artists, but in order to get the full picture you have to see it performed live. If what Charlie says holds any water, While You Were Sleeping proves that these guys must put on a damn good live show.
MC Charlie K takes center stage as the project runs through non-stop rapid-fire wordplay for just under 40 minutes. Content wise, the album is deeply rooted in reality, touching on hip-hop progression, lyricism, and positivity. It’s easy to classify this album as “conscious” hip-hop, but fitting this album into a category would be a mistake. “Cigarette Smoke” purveys a positive message about overcoming addiction in everyday life without coming off as preachy. Charlie K takes a well-produced, well-paced album to a whole new level with intelligent wordplay that doesn’t rest for the whole listen.
Producers Chris Conway and Kush Shalimar put forward a diverse sound palette deeply rooted in 90’s boom bap percussion that creates great cohesion and smooth flow through the entirety of the album. “Excel” takes a smooth jazz sample with a chopped up Nas vocal for a make shift chorus that would make the late Nujabes proud, and have any long time hip-hop listener’s head nodding. At the opposite end of the spectrum “Gorilladelphia” boasts a hard hitting break beat and a sharp guitar riff that brings the album near it’s close on a high note.
Plain and simple, Writtenhouse hit the mark with While You Were Sleeping. The rich Philadelphia hip-hop scene has something to be proud of with this release. Much of the same characteristics that made Diamond District’s 2009 effort In The Ruff so successful are what helped Writtenhouse succeed on this release. No groundbreaking new sounds, no experimental lyricism or album construction, just a great straight up no frills hip-hop record. With everything in hip-hop today, it’s a very welcome breath of fresh air.[audio:http://potholesinmyblog.flywheelsites.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/WrittenHouse-Sticky.mp3|titles=WrittenHouse – “Sticky”]