“HONEST MUSIC (INTRO)”
“JUST TO SAY”
Virginia-based emcee, producer, dj and working engineer ST/MiC’s 2008 release, “Life’s Work” made it all the way to Japan via Yanase Pro and actually did fairly well there. Now, ST/MiC returns with his sophomore full-length release, “Honest Music (Domination Records), and let me be the first to inform you….this is how a sophomore album is supposed to sound as “Honest Music” is a definite improvement upon it’s predecessor, “Life’s Work”. Some of you may recall ST/MiC from his flavorful intro on the W.T.R./Sneaker Politics mixtape “Preservation” from last winter. For those of you diggin’ the Jazz Addixx flavor that made 2007′s “Oxygen Refreshed” such a memorable experience, “Honest Music” is right up your alley.
As I was talking with DJ Ragz (Jazz Addixx) during my 3-hour road trip a few days ago he mentioned that ST/MiC had some material that he wanted me to check out. Let me just say this, Ragz is one of the coolest cats I’ve ever met in my life, and being that he and ST/MiC have a pretty strong working relationship I was somewhat hesitant to review “Honest Music”. Why? you ask…well, quite “Honestly” (pun intended) I liked certain tracks from ST/MiC’s debut “Life’s Work” (particularly “Love Is Complicated”) and I actually bumped the album in succession a few days straight, but it didn’t feel like a cohesive piece of work to me. Much of “Life’s Work” seemed to falter on the later portion of the album, making it feel like a rushed, extended EP as opposed to an actual album. While still a solid debut, “Life’s Work” became an afterthought shortly after it’s release (at least on my Ipod).
Fast forward to Sept. 22, 2009 8pm: As I uploaded “Honest Music” to my Ipod to accompany me through a bout of Madden 2010 (jus’ killin’ time until NBA 2K10 hit on Oct. 6), I was looking forward to sampling the progression that ST/MiC was destined for after hearing this sampler (click to DL) a few months back. Also, I may be somewhat biased, but you gotta’ admit, ST/MiC killed the intro to our mixtape. Secondly, I’m as Caucasian as they come; grew up on a farm for the first 10 years of my life, attended a predominately-White high school, and I currently reside in Northwest Arkansas (aka “cracker haven”)…yet, it’s hard for me to stomach white dudes that rap. Get It? Let me expound. Yes, Eminem is one of the dopest lyricist in Hip Hop, but as far as his voice? I can barely stomach it. Copywrite? Fairly nice lyrically, sounds like a whining seventh grader on the mic. There’s a select few emcess of the lighter shade that I can bare for a complete album: Apathy, Everlast, Serch, Pete Nice, etc….go ahead and throw ST/MiC in that list of bearable emcees as well. Shoot, dude is nice with his. Make no bones about it, ST/MiC has really stepped up not only his wordplay, but also his delivery with “Honest Music”.
The “Intro” sets things off nicely with a sparse, thumping production courtesy of Tomorrow’s Yesterday. Plus, the homie DJ Ragz truly did his thing on the cuts (as expected), splicing the infamous Jay-Z line “truthfully I wanna’ rhyme like Common Sense..” with an accompanying vocal sample from my favorite emcee EVER, CL Smooth. On “Make The Call” the Jazz Addixx make another welcome appearance (emcee Mudd on the production-tip, with Ragz on the fader), as MiC is on cruise-control lyrically over this dense, Pete Rock-influenced backdrop that packs enough “umpfh” to rattle your insides. However, things really start to pick up on “To Say” as, yet again, Mudd comes through with what could possibly be his best production to date. My favorite cut from “Honest Music”, “To Say” finds ST/MiC playing the bigger man on this bouncy-masterpiece, without being too preachy. That’s yet another thing that I find intriguing about ST/MiC, for the most part this album is almost completely void off all negativity: no cusses, no frontin’, playin’ the gangster role…it is what it is….”Honest Music”, and as a dedicated fan of underground Hip Hop, I appreciate that. Oh, and speaking of frontin’ and playin’ the gangster role, close your eyes and take a listen to “Walk This Place (How Long)” and tell me that producer J-Spitz didn’t arrive with his best Havoc impression on the boards. Of course, there’s “Silent Hills” which was also featured on the “Honest Music” sampler listed above. Produced by The Unknown (you heard it here first..this cat GOT BEATS!!) “Silent Hills” is an almost eerie production that would have been somewhat out of place on “Life’s Work”, yet ST MiC rides the highs and lows of this track with relative ease, only showcasing just how far this dude has advanced as an emcee.
While I’m not gonna’ place “Honest Music” as one of the best albums to drop this year just yet (simply because I’ve literally been listening to the album for only 3 (!) days), I’m definitely impressed. After receiving this album via e-mail from ST/MiC, the next morning I simply responded “yooooooooooooooooooo” while typing on my Iphone as the bassline from “To Say” vibrated the Diet Mountain Dew out of my cup-holder and on to my floor mats. While “Honest Music” won’t move the units of say a “Blueprint 3″ or even “OB4CL2″, it shouldn’t be overlooked by any means. I can truly appreciate a multi-talented artist putting out quality material such as this. Like your Moms used to say “honesty is the best policy”, and a no-frills, non-gimmicky album such as “Honest Music” stays in rotation much longer than albums that are released admist all the glamour and glitz only to disappoint you tremendously after just one listen. Congrats to you ST/MiC, hard work pays off, and there is truly no glass ceiling to your potential as an influential artist in this thing we call Hip-Hop. “Cop the album when it drops” (utilizing my best Large Professor voice)
“Honest Music” will be digitally distributed through Timeless Daimyo in association with Domination Recordings with a release date of October 15, 2009 with a CD release to follow shortly after. Your ears need to hear this. Your mind needs to contemplate this and your soul needs to feed on this.