Damn it sho‘ feels good!! You know the feeling you get when you first hear an album or song that has the ability to completely alter the course of your feelings and emotions for days ahead. Remember the first time you heard Pete & C.L.’s “T.R.O.Y” or Tribe’s “Electric Relaxation”…or even better yet De La’s “Stakes Is High”? Or what about the time you played that particular song or album for that entire day/week/month? Good music has the capability to brighten up your day or even give you that extra “bop” in your step to see you through that vigorous “9 to 5″…..Jazz Addixx’ “Oxygen Refreshed” is that kinda’ album. Ever since…yeah, I’ll admit it…downloading “Oxygen Refreshed” early last year (ahem, I did eventually purchase the album) I can’t keep it away from my ears. With a clever and witty emcee (Mudd) who also doubles up to produce 95% of “Oxygen Refreshed” (don’t sleep on Unknown’s contribution, either) and a highly skilled DJ and up & coming beat maker in tow (DJ Ragz), there is truly no glass ceiling to this dynamic duo’s potential.
If your a late twenties/early-thirties head like myself it feels as if Jazz Addixx has aimed to please just us, crafting an album that brings to mind shades of early Pete & CL work. The similarities are there….One emcee, one DJ…very little if any cursing on either album (”Mecca & The Soul Brother” or “The Main Ingredient” along with “Oxygen Refreshed”) and very potent horn loops with filtered samples and bottom heavy basslines…ring a bell anyone?? I’ll go on record to say that Mudd’s the best emcee to emerge outta’ VA since Mad Skillz!! Lyrically, Mudd’s vocal tones will immediately evoke heavy comparisons to Problemz of the Big City, Beatnuts fame….but don’t get it twisted, he’s just as strong if not stronger than Problemz on the mic. On the wheelz of steel, DJ Ragz is a force to be reckoned with….remember those “Bomb Hip Hop” DJ Compilations you scooped up a few years ago? Check your history. You’ll love how Ragz implements your favorite Golden Era vocal samples (Common Sense, Da Bush Babees, Puba, etc.) sliced on the chorus of most of the tracks on the album much like DJ Premier. And the ultimate co-sign? Ragz is in the process of polishing up the When They Reminisce/Sneaker Politics “Preservation” mixtape that’s set to drop within the next month. Trust me on this one, Ragz’ cuts and overall presence on the wheelz of steel is sickening…plus, he’s a good, open-minded, likeable dude which makes it hella’ easy to overcome “bumping heads” for a dope complilation.
I’m high on “Oxygen Refreshed” for two reasons: The first, being that it truly captures the essence of the shit that we grew up on…the Pete & CL’s, The Tribe’s & De La’s of the recording industry, all the while injecting their own unmistakable sound into your eardrums. Call this if you will….for lack of better wording “Grown Folks Music”…awww, sh*t is just pure uncut, dope!!. The beats are indeed mature and very polished and thankfully these cats had a good engineer!!! The lyrics are consistent while at the same time impressive as it’s easy to see that Mudd is in “cruise control” on the mic….you can hear his confidence comin‘ thru your speakers. Now, I’m big on a good voice (just ask Guru)…alot of times I run into a decent underground joint with solid beats, but vocally the emcee is just plain irritating….not the case with Mudd. The album clocks in 20 tracks deep, which is like livin‘ on the edge in terms of cohesiveness for a hip hop album..but folks, there’s not a whole lotta‘ filler on here…if any at all.
I’m not real crazy about the album’s start though, after you pass up the mandatory intro (which is actually listenable) I wasn’t too impressed with the….ahhh, I hate to say it but Salsa influenced “Say Jazzy” but as soon as the follow up “H.I.P. H.O.P.” hit the headphones Jazz Addixx immediately pulled me back in. “H.I.P. H.O.P” is easily one of the top three tracks on “Oxygen Refreshed”. Wait until you hear this one folks!!! I may be crazy but “H.I.P. H.O.P” really reminds me of Marco & Ace’s “Nostalgia” in terms of song structure and quality….if the chorus on this cut doesn’t win you over…..your seriously lackin‘ a soul!! Another highlight on the album comes in the form of “Far From The Average” (lovin‘ the Puba sample!!), with it’s filtered sample and mid 90’s drum kick and a pinch of Pete Rock’s horns it’s sure to be a favorite of yours as well….but the real shining moment on this track comes at about the 3 minute mark as another drum kick and bassline are inserted to inject even more life into “Far From….”Genius!!. Don’t forget “Don’t Judge” either, a bass heavy track that lyrically stresses the importance of being yourself over knockin’ drum kicks. Lyrically, Mudd is as consistent as they come, never changing his flow all that much on the album yet still proving to be extremely effective and witty. However, the true highlight of this track comes near the 2 minute 14 second mark when DJ Ragz slices the track to pieces and catapults it to a whole ‘notha level. The production on this track reminds me soo much of Pete Rock’s production on “Main Ingredient”, maybe it’s the “wah wah’s” that evoke the instant comparisons.
Oh, I guess I never got around to the second reason: It’s plain and simple folks….THE BEATS!!! Some of the best beats that I’ve heard in recent memory were on Ill Poetic’s “The World Is Ours” and Blu & Exile’s “Below The Heavens” (at least half of the album), Mudd’s beats on “Oxygen Refreshed” are right up there with the aforementioned artists. The only REAL beef I have with the album is with the intro and outro beat to “Stress”….they should have let that beat ride out, you know how I hate a wasted instrumental! Simply put, “Oxygen Refreshed” is an instant CLASSIC delivered from some of the “Good Guys”in Hip Hop’s underground doin’ it RIGHT!!!