While the production services of the Neptunes and Timbaland will
likely remain in high demand for some time, hip-hop’s sample-loving
producers have recently shown that their brand of music will not
become obsolete or sublimated while other sounds steal the scene.
Swedish producer Soul Supreme is the latest to buck the prevailing
trends – joining producers like Kanye West, Just Blaze and 9th
Wonder – and his excellent The Saturday Nite Agenda is a virtual
sampling cathedral in which hip-hop heads who worship the style can
find refuge with which they can symbolically pay respect to the
art.

TSNA will appeal to those purists because it combines the
throwback sampling of Soul Supreme with the rhymes of revered
artists like Big Daddy Kane, KRS-One and Pete Rock. The first
release from Grit Records, a Boston-based distributor who made this
album with Soul Supreme’s producer-oriented label Inebriated Beats,
TSNA also showcases new acts from the greater-Boston area like
Checkmark, who spits a nasty verse alongside Kane on “Come Get It.”
The album’s overall effect is a pleasantly confusing one, immersing
the old school in the new and both reminding fans of hip-hop’s past
while proposing a pleasant idea for the future.

The timeless mode of this record falters in spots. Some songs
become mildly monotonous and certain verses throughout the album
are merely adequate and mostly underwhelming. KRS-One’s flow on
“The Message” suffers this fate and the pioneering MC sounds a
little old. However his status in the game and substantive lyrics
render criticism of his and similar efforts unfortunate given some
of the other obvious targets in hip-hop. Checkmark even hints at
these cultural transgressors when he spits, “I leave rappers with
paralysis / Till they spellin’ their name wrong, like Fabulous.”
While Check is rapping about his skill, his example inadvertently
illustrates the mindless hip-hop that commonly obscures gems like
Soul Supreme’s craftsmanship.

And indeed, the record’s real strength lies in its beats, ones
that Soul Supreme masterfully crafts and perfectly mixes. Packaged
as a happy homage to ’70s Blaxploitation and seriously reminiscent
of the classic music of the early ’90s, TSNA has a great narrative
arc created by the seamless transitions between songs and an
overall continuity in sound that makes an already fine LP even more
engrossing. Listeners will likely lose track of the album’s
hour-long length given how easily it flows and the overall quality
of each song.

4 Stars

 

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