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To quote the great Rakim Allah: “You can get a smack for that”, this time the “you” should be me for hitting the snooze button on Surreal’s third and latest solo venture “Pardon My Dust” (which dropped in mid-October). Released to very little fanfare via the Japan label Subcontract, “Pardon My Dust” was one of the jazziest, most insightful and funkiest records to hit the streets in 2008. Nearly 10 years deep in the game, this Floridian, is better known as 1/2 of Surreal and DJ Balance (who hit us with a solid effort “Future Classic” in ’06) and most notably for his work with the Sound Providers (another ’06 banger “True Indeed”). If my memory serves me correctly “Future Classic” and “True Indeed” actually dropped around the same time frame in ’06, I’m talkin’ within a month or so of one another. Needless, to say it doesn’t look like Surreal will be developing a sudden case of “writer’s block” in the immediate future….lucky for us!
Even though the terms “throwback”, “Golden Era” and “Boom Bap” are slightly overused (and need to be put to rest, but I’m just as guilty as the next blogger) when describing an album that truly takes you back to the days of Carhartt hodies, Guess Jeans, Triple 5 Soul and Timberland hiking boots (yeah, the brown and green joints that Timberland continued to release for like….10 years in succession!), “Pardon My Dust” is one record that blessed my ears in 2008 that really trapped me in a time machine and had me reminiscing about the overabundance of HEAVY East Coast joints that dropped on what seemed like a weekly basis, somewhere between the years of 1995-96.
For a prime example of the feeling I’m talking about, peep the opening sounds of “God Speed”, even though the track will instantly evoke memories of the Souls Of Mischief classic “93 Till Infinity”, producer Rek One did a helluva’ job slowing down the sample, adding echos and stutter-step kicks to give “God Speed” it’s very own identity. Also, Surreal gets major bonus points for delivering uplifting and honest lyrics, not only on “God Speed”, but throughout the majority of the disc. Lyrics are delivered in a clean-cut fashion, void of all cusses…I can respect that. It’s not everyday that you run across a solid Hip Hop album that you can enjoy, and at the same token, play it in the ride while your two little girls are strapped in their car seats in the back. Another fine instance is the poignant, descriptive tale, “Mamma Don’t Cry”. The first time I heard this track, which actually serves as the album’s opener (minus the mandatory “Intro”), it really reminded me of Guru’s “Sights In The City” from Keith Elam’s first Jazzmatazz venture, both with the slightly uptempo production and horns (courtesy of Surreal himself), as well as Surreal’s writing…which, from the sounds of things, could have been crafted while sitting on a front stoop in his neighborhood.
There is something that I found very interesting when listening to one of my favorite tracks from the album “The Recipe”. Now don’t get me wrong, “The Recipe” is a song that any father will immediately take a liking to as Surreal preaches some of life’s lessons to his newborn son. However, it’s just kinda’ odd that Surreal -and I knew I heard those drums before, but one song has made them so very easily identifiable to me- chose to deliver such a positive message about life, over drums that also fueled Akinyele’s pro-abortion (to state it lightly) anthem “I Luh Her”. For one, I’m not knockin’ the selection of beats whatsoever, I’m sure it was purely unintended and merely an oversight. Still, it doesn’t take away from the song’s spirit and enlightening message in the least.
All in all, this album does have it’s fair share of guest spots (Supastition, Izrael Bell, Brotha Soul and Dillion Maurer all make appearances), as well as featured production from the likes of Surreal, Rek One (R.I.P., who actually died in an automobile accident in 2004), Symbolyc One, Five Quartz, Dela, Batsauce (whaddup Smile Rays!), nemo G and Def Dave, however the true spotlight is on Surreal-who has one of the strongest voices in Hip Hop- as he shines the brightest while delivering a very memorable performance on “Pardon My Dust”.