Purchase “Rubber Souls” HERE
Man O’ Man, it’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that Tanya Morgan’s “Brooklynati” (B-House review HERE) was released over 4 years ago! Today, looking back upon the initial review of “Brooklynati”, I may have jumped the gun just a tad bit. Quite honestly, I can’t even recall the last time I sat down with the album for a thorough listen in the last 2-3 years. Fast forward to 2013, Tanya Morgan is no longer a 3-man crew (Ilyas is omitted from the duo’s newest LP, “Rubber Souls”, leaving the crew to continue his solo career and flourishing video production), baring Von Pea and Donwill with the burden of duplicating the success of a seminal underground LP of the new millennium.
With “Rubber Souls”, whereas Brick Beats handled the bulk of the production on T.M.’s last LP, the backdrop for this album is solely provided by 6th Sense (Outasight, Talib Kweli, B.O.B., Homeboy Sandman, etc.). Now, I know what you’re thinking, and I shared the same sentiment prior to “Rubber Souls” and that thought is that, in the past, 6th Sense’s production has been kinda’ “soft” to me. However, with “Rubber Souls”, 6th Sense keeps you guessing (and also drops a nice verse on “The Vehicle”) and does a tremendous job of setting each track apart from one another. In saying that, nothing and I mean NOTHING, sounds alike on “Rubber Souls”. Each track carries it’s own weight and has it’s own true identity as 6th Sense laces Von Pea and Donwill with some of the most interesting and original production I’ve heard this year.
Von Pea and Donwill are easily two of the most enjoyable, tongue in cheek rappers in the game today. Both possess a quirky, sharp wit that will have you reaching for the rewind button from time to time. For proof in da’ puddin’, peep Von Pea on “All ‘Em” (featuring Outasight on the hook), a track that is an ode of sorts to Phife’s memorable verse from Tribe’s “Electric Relaxation” and one of “Rubber Soul’s” funkiest cuts. The duo can also get serious as well, peep Donwill “throwing all his cards on the table” with the reflective “Day I”. It’s obvious that Tanya Morgan, as a collective, have paid their dues and they definitely coast atop 6th Sense’s production with ease. Seasoned veterans by now, it’s hard to say whether “Rubber Souls” will generate Tanya Morgan any more notoriety aside from their die hard following, which sadly, has even regressed with the four years between albums as Donwill even addresses on the album.
Here’s the true “sticking point” for me when comparing “Brooklynati” to “Rubber Souls”. While “Brooklynati” really garnered my attention after the first listen, “Rubber Souls”, admittedly did not. Upon the first spin of “Rubber Souls”, I was somewhat disappointed and no single track really appealed to me. However, after thoroughly enjoying the album over the weekend, rotating between this and LMNO & Evidence’s “After The Fact” (stay tuned..), I can promise you, I never played “Brooklynati” in the repetitive fashion that I have “Rubber Souls”. The album is very cohesive and enjoyable and is undeniably effective. While there are standouts such as the aforementioned “The Day I”, “All ‘Em” & “Eulogy”, there is no true high point, but rather a series of quality production and lyricism. The only misstep was “Never Too Much” a playful bit of banter between Von Pea & Nitty Scott MC, which is just a little too bouncy for my taste and is somewhat disruptive to the overall feel of the LP.
In closing, I can’t quite say this is one of the year’s top LPs, but I can say that “Rubber Souls” is an album I’ve listened to daily over the last week or so since it’s initial leak and I’ll definitely be purchasing the LP next Tuesday on it’s official release date. Also, pure coincidence, but for the perfect “back to back” evening listening session, the next to you unwind for the day, pump “Rubber Souls” and Epidemic’s “Somethin’ For Tha’ Listeners” back to back for an enjoyable experience. I’ll give this album a solid 3.75 outta’ 5. Definitely a classy, mature album from those T.M. cats who just keep on gridin’ and churning out good music!