First things first, this has gotta’ be some kind of world record, LMNO’s “Tripping On This Journey” (which actually dropped on Tuesday, the 10th) marks Leave My Name Out’s 7th (!) full-length album of 2010. Of course, you’ll probably recall how we raved about LMNO last LP, his collaborative effort with Mr. Brady (Deep Rooted), “Banger Management”, but at some point you would have to think that LMNO would deplete his rhyme pool. Not the case my good friend. As with each album that arrived prior to “Tripping On This Journey” they (the albums) all battle with each other for LMNO’s top outing of the year. Really though, if you extracted 12-15 cuts from all LMNO’s albums that have dropped in 2010 and combined them into one final product, it would be very possible that you’d have an album that would contend for album of the year honors. Yet, what’s most awe-inspiring with each of LMNO’s collaborative LPs with the likes of the aforementioned Mr. Brady, Dert, Theory Hazit, etc., is that none of them have lacked “chemistry” or sound “rushed” or “forced” in the least bit, and that my friend, is a difficult chore to complete in this day and age. However, you’ve gotta’ give LMNO his props for his unmatched work ethic and flexibility when collaborating with all the different production personas.
Honestly, as much as I loved “Banger Management” (for one, being such a huge Deep Rooted fan), I was even more amped to review “Tripping..” when I discovered that the producer whom would be paired with LMNO on this album would be the man responsible for my 2nd favorite cut of 2008. Hailing from Paris, France, my first introduction to the newest member of the Asideworldwide roster Astronote, was indeed via his production for for Now On’s “All You Ever Knew” (from their highly underrated LP, “Tomorrow Already”). I mean, “All You Ever Knew” isn’t just a track that was cool two years ago, I still probably play that track at the very minimum, every other day of the week. I’ve even read where fellow labelmate Buff-1 stated that “All You Ever Knew” is his favorite track of ALL-TIME! However, this is 2010, not 2008 and we’re talkin’ about “Tripping On This Journey”, not “Tomorrow Already”. Having already lent his production talents to the likes of Donwill, Talib Kweli, Buff1, Donwill, Joell Ortiz, Guilty Simpson and Mayer Hawthorne, Astronote is soon to be a household name with his performance on “Tripping..”.
As solid as LMNO has been ‘year ’round lyrically, it’s definitely a positive when you have a musical canvas courtesy of Astronote to rock over for 12 tracks. I can’t even front, this may very well be an LMNO “album” per se, as well as being released (as have all of LMNO’s LPs this year) on the Up Above imprint, yet Astronote’s star shines brighest on “Tripping..”. Don’t get it twisted, I’m not speaking in DJ Premier/Group Home terms, but rather Pete Rock/CL Smooth terms, if you feel me?
The album features what is quite possibly the best “opening” track that I’ve had the pleasure of listening to all year. The appropriately titled, “Opening Statement” which not only finds LMNO at his lyrical apex, but the Astronote production is jaw-dropping. With enough “build-up” to achieve the maximum adrenaline rush, “Opening Statement” is truly on some “Rocky entering the ring” type ‘ish, as this track has suited me quite well for my early morning workouts this week. The album’s first leak “Hard To Do” served as the perfect introduction to the LP, as the nice sample selection suits well with LMNO’s “in your face” verbal attack. My second favorite cut from the LP, “Face To Face” features a neck-jerking backdrop from Astro that incorporates elements of Funk and Electronica yet still has that “knock factor” to keep it street. Trust me, if you love the LabTechs and 14KT, Astronote is right up your alley.
Even though the album tails slighly off near it’s completion, I’d have no qualms what so ever stating that “Tripping On This Journey” would be a valid purchase for your CD/LP collection. With no features, yet again, LMNO has proved that he has an amazing ear for production, as well as being one of Hip-Hop’s most dedicated and open-minded emcees.