Really Eric? How you gon’ review an album that’s barely been out for 24 hours. Simply put, for a good…ehh…12(!) of those hours “ELmatic” has been bumping. In the car, at the gym, studying, at work, you name it..”ELmatic” has evolved into the son that I never had. It’s funny ya’ know? As I was making the two hour drive back from Tulsa late yesterday afternoon I hit the infamous Has-Lo up on the celly. After the usual banter, “how’s the album doin?”, “when’s the remix album droppin’?”, “how’s school?”, etc. I asked Has, “I mean, really, what has been the most memorable album (I biased to Has’ “In Case I Don’t Make It”, of course) that you’ve heard this year? I would soon utter a sentiment that Has’ immediately agreed upon, “Hip Hop just feels so damn stagnant right now”. I swear, shortly after I mentioned those words to Has, a “ding” goes off on my Blackberry Storm. Peering at the inbox, I see that Elzhi’s long-awaited of the the Nas masterpiece, “Illmatic”, “ELmatic” (with backing from Will Sessions) had just leaked earlier that morning.
Now, I’ve never been one to hop on the Elzhi “hype train”. Undoubtedly, dude is insanely dope, clever with his words and delivery, yet if you asked me back in ’08 when El’s debut LP, “Preface” (not taking “Euro Pass” into consideration) dropped, I’d have no problem admitting that Detroit counterpart, Buff 1′s “There’s Only One” (which dropped right around the same time, maybe even the same day?) was a much better LP in my humble opinion and to this day, still remains so. However, after listening to “ELmatic” over and over and over, I can’t front on EL any longer, “ELmatic” is a classic in the making, if not already.
What is “ELmatic”? Is it a mixtape? A re-make? Nah kid, “ELmatic” is an album, you can even argue…nah..it’s Elzhi’s best work to date, hands down! As daring as it may seem, taking what is probably the best album in the history of the art-form, and giving it a clever spin is a daring quest. Hell, just listen to Fashwan’s “Ode To Illmatic”, which in retrospect, and all due respect to the man responsible for one of the most impressive albums of the last five years with “Boy Meets World”, seems laughable after one spin of “ELmatic”. Elzhi has accomplished what no one ever expected, “ELmatic” is monumental, admirable and arguably the best “album” that will drop this year. Admit it, when you heard that Elzhi was offering his “ode to Illmatic” of sorts, you were hyped. Yet, did you ever expect this? “ELmatic” has eclipsed all of my expectations and made me feel excited about Hip-Hop once again, in just 24 short hours!
Will Sessions, Will Sessions, Will Sessions. No, it’s not just El’s clever wordplay and tongue in cheek delivery that almost forces you to fall in love with “ELmatic”. No sir, the live instrumentation that can be found on this LP is breathtaking, stunning and most importantly, rejuvenating. You just couldn’t have crafted a better scenario and Will Sessions more than held up their end of the bargain with instrumentation that is neck and neck in terms of quality and potency with Elzhi’s lyricism. I mean, I’m literally smiling from ear to ear and shaking my head at this very moment, thinking of just how damn efficient and flawless “ELmatic” turned out to be. It is really something to be astounded by, words on this blog just won’t do the album any justice whatsoever. I can promise that “ELmatic” will remain an mainstay in the headphones of many until the close of 2011 and beyond.
I may regret saying this sometime in the future, but as you know “Illmatic” is hands down my favorite LP of All-Time, slightly edging out “Mecca & The Soul Brother”. Yet, would I be ashamed to say that Elzhi’s (with the help of Will Sessions) renditions of “Halftime” and “Memory Lane” eclipsed the original masterpieces from one, Nasir Jones? Not at this moment in time, no way. “ELmatic” is gold, simply flawless, and awe inspiring. So next time you think of taking a stab at a remake, ode, rendition, etc., please revisit “ELmatic”, take notes and please reconsider. To quote the legendary Rakim, “This is how it should be done”. Elzhi, Will Sessions, hats off…SALUTE!!!