#NerdSwag [Reviews]: Step Brothers / Zion I / Ray West & O.C.

Their debut album, Lord Steppington, certainly reflects the zany realm of MF Doom & Madlib’s (underground classic) Madvillainy, peppering blunted raps over chopped up funk, Adult Swimish vocal samples, and, thankfully, a suitable offering of comical skits (i.e. one even showcases an early Kanye doing his damndest to be “humble”). It’s moments like these that pull a stronger magnetic force between the hip-hop and geek cultures than you’d think.

Taking that notion a.. well.. step further, Lord Step himself plays like a British shadow of Yeezus — who, believe it or not at one time, was himself an underground king. The dusty, Evidence-laced third track “Byron G” takes care of all that (featuring a rapping appearance from actor Scott Caan). Sandwiching the track is Dire Straits-inspired “Dr. Kimble”, and the guitar-tinged scorcher, “Legendary Mesh”, which showcases the Step Brothers at their rhyme-trading best. Drunk, spit, pass. Alchemist even gets into a madvillainy mood on this one: “Animal head on the table, no plate — fresh off the axe / Blood dribble and a drippin’ / My medicine is kryptonite for Clark Kent, that’s why I’m still scribble and a scriptin’.”

If you’re wondering why Evidence — whose own mic skills have only launched leaps and bounds from The Platform to his 2011 Rhymesayer debut, Cats & Dogs  opts to play more monotone with the album, you’ll understand when “Swimsuit Rastas” hits; the beat flips in three segments like a modern-day “Speak Ya Clout”, sending Ev to play the role of message-man to Al’s more bizarre musings. Thankfully, “The Weatherman” raises that energy level a notch or two when joined by the restless Action Bronson (over another very Premieresque dish, “Mums the Word”), Fresno’s Fashawn on the “Banging Sound” of ridiculous hi-hats, and Blu & Rakaa on “Tomorrow” — a track just as suitable for Mobb Deep than anything else.

Tossing in a pair of sure to be crowd favs with the pulverizing “Step Masters” (a bassline so thick, you’d think it was Kutmasta Kurt) and “Buzzing Away” (a.k.a The Weed Song), Evidence x Alchemist couldn’t possibly start this hip-hop year on a better note. Their combination of experimental grooves, proven guest emcees, and humorous mic jukes make their long-awaited connection the first must-have album of 2014, despite an inkling of familiar sounds and fragmented subject matter.

But, hey, there’s no reason for these Step Brothers to take themselves too seriously in the first place when there’s no doubt everyone else will.

4 (out of 5) Hip-Hop Bibles.
4 (out of 5) Hip-Hop Bibles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Step Brothers (Evidence x Alchemist) will be performing at LA’s El Rey Theatre this Wednesday, February 5th. Get your tickets here.

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