Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Pop, Rap & Hip-Hop, R&B
This album is an Innovative, Epic Classic & it's OVER YA HEA
SmokaJ | TORONTO | 07/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the best & most creative concept album ever made, hands down - no question (Prince Paul's "A Prince Among Thieves" comes close). How can you true Hip-Hop heads & loyal OK fans (casual listeners & bandwagon jumpers have no say in this matter) possibly believe that a duo as intelligent & ingenious as Pharoahe Monch & Prince Po (former art school students) would produce a 'failed' concept album? If you know OK, you know that failed albums simply aren't in the cards. You REALLY have to read between the lines to see & understand it (as you do w/ deciphering ALOT of their tracks & lyrics), but if & when you do - you'll see how truly brilliant this concept-album is.
99.5% of Hip-Hop albums are just collections of tracks (nothing wrong w/ that). The other .5% step outside the norm and try to create something abstract & different ie, the concept album. These albums are usually met w/ confusion, disdain, whatever, the point is we as Hip-Hop heads are so used to one way of doing things, that to experience something so familiar in a different light is sometimes hard to digest. When I first heard "The Equinox" I knew something was up, but I had idea what they were trying to do. Like most of the other reviewers, I just enjoyed the tracks and ignored (and was annoyed by) the skits and intros. It doesn't help that 90% of skits on Hip-Hop albums are pointless and intrusive...so naturally we've learned to ignore and skip-over them. It wasn't until I committed myself to ACTUALLY LISTENING to the album in it's entirety w/ an open mind, that I fully understood and appreciated what it was OK was trying to do here.
Take for example, a movie. Now chop it up into 21 scenes. Now watch only 14 of the scenes, in any random sequence. This is what you're doing if you listen to "The Equinox" just for the tracks. There's nothing wrong w/ this, I do it all the time, 'cause sometimes I just wanna hear certain dope cuts off the album. BUT if this is what you do w/ this album, then you have no right to call it a 'failure' of a concept-album 'cause you don't get it.
It's easy to see why people think the tracks have nothing to do w/ the plot of the story. OK wanted to make a movie outta "The Equinox," but didn't have the support or resources to do it, so they opted to make the album as movie like as possible - check the front and back covers for instance. Each track is like a scene in a movie, where each individual track means very little on it's own. But as a collective, each track builds on the story and thickens the plot. See what I'm sayin'?
"The Equinox," follows the lives of Life (OK's manager, Xtreme) & Malice (D.I.T.C. member O.C). The two wily young hustlers, one good, one bad, are followed as they grow from young punks into men. Basically, it's a Hip-Hop coming of age story. A prominent concept within the concept is the album's narration by a older voice, the character Life reflecting back on his youth.
The equinox is the two times of the year when light and dark are in perfect balance in a day. This is the sustained-metaphor in a the story which indulges itself in the duality of good and evil and the balance of morality in one's life.
The quick synopsis is this; the two kids start out by just livin' like young punks, doin' drive-bys, rebelling against authority figures, goin' to clubs, etc. As they grow-up they decide to go into the money-makin' business (a corrupt cheque-cashing store). The "light" side of the album ends at track #11 "Shugah Shorty" a classic track about flippin' it on girls, but this is where the fun ends.
The following skit, track #12 opens the "dark" side of the album. They get deeply involved in the underworld as other problem's arise in their lives, pregnancies, betrayal by a crew member, the provocation of self-hatred between two best-friends and eventually gettin' driven-by.
A voilent lesson nails down the moral, and w/ "Somehow, Someway" the two are presented w/ a fork in the road and emerge changed and (luckily) alive into men. The "Epilogue," tells of how they've come 180 degrees, realizing there's more important things in life. The hidden final track "United as One," combines Pharoahe (the world's best asthmatic MC), Prince Po and the characters Life (Xtreme) & Malice (O.C.). I think of this as the track they'd play over the closing credits.
So that's that. As for the musical content of the album, I've never heard OK better than this. The often dark production is stellar and fits the album's vibe perfectly. Lyrically, OK are at their best, bringing supremely intelligent and creative lyrics we've come to expect. My favorite cuts are "Questions," "Hate" & "Invetro." Even through the concept, OK still keeps it true to form, "Questions" contains my favorite hook that I've ever heard them spit: "Yo Pharoahe, brother why don't you explain, how did Hip-Hop get caught up in this ill rap game? I got a question, in Hip-Hop, who they followin'? Them n*gga's with skills or them n*gga's who be hollarin'? Them n*gga's that be hollarin' is subject to modelin' n*gga's with skills, always and forever keeps a followin', swallowin' pride - never, we be imperialistic, who rips sh*t w/o being materialistic?" Classic.
"Hate," has the two MC's flippin' perspectives and rhyming from the viewpoint of racist Aryan skinheads commenting on the black community. It's severely powerful and disturbing, especially Prince's last verse. The track figures into their severe depression in the story.
My favorite cut on the album, has to be "Invetro." This track is mind-blowing in it's originality and effectiveness. They rap from the perspective of a fetus in the belly of a cracked-out single mom, each MC taking half the soul: Monch, w/ the chip on his shoulder, wishing he wasn't going to be born and Prince as the optimist just lookin' for a chance at life. It's incredibly moving, and done over a beautiful Buckwild beat.
Bottom Line: This album is a breath of fresh air. It's unique, has a great underlying meaning and is lyrically perfect. I think it's their best work ever. Call it a home-run, it's outta the park and it's over ya head...but hopefully now you can appreciate it in all it's glory. It's time OK got the full props they deserve for this epic. A 5 star masterpiece, Peace."
Pharaohe + Prince Po = Unstoppable
SmokaJ | 03/02/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Equinox is virtually flawless! This album caught an abundance of criticism for not being up to the standards of the previous two outings but I beg to differ. The sound is a little different but the production is unfounded and the lyrics are as usual innocative and unparalleled. Songs such as Questions, Numbers, Hate, Sin, and the hidden bonus track will be the my "ruler" for measuring the quality of future hip-hop songs."
Coulda been a classic, but it's bit too ambitious
Scott D. Gribble | Baltimore MD | 03/10/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"No question, Organized Konfusion will go down as one of the most lyrically tight rap groups ever. There third offering was definitely there most ambitious effort yet. While the group had tackled and practically redefined the concept track, they took on the feat of creating a concept album "The Equinox". Unfortunately this ends up being the major flaw of the album. Probably the oddest choice in making a concept album was the fact that the actual songs make little or no reference to the story/concept. The songs do nothing to add to the skits and vice versa. But, strip the album from the skits and the story and you're left with a 12-track album from OK.
The self produced "They Don't Want It!" serves as a warning for the listener (look at it as the real intro for the concept-less album). Unfortunately, no rhymes hear on this tight beat, but the duo finally drops it on "9xs Out of 10". While it's all too short at 1:48, it's still enough time for the crew to drop several killer lines (PM: "I'm hitting you harder than Nancy Kerrigan on the shin/ F*** if you can't comprehend").
"Questions" is the first full-length track on the album (produced by Diamond D), which was the `single'. This is classic OK, over an up-beat jazzy production, the lyrics are just dense with quotables. There's really no way to describe either flow, even if you see their lyrics. But, if you've never heard Pharaohe Monch rip the mic, here's a taste ("I'm movin on all you punk Bambino bastards/ Your style's depleted like muscles without amino acids/ I blast kids with mass times matter/ Forever clingin to endeavors defined, clever words/ thus waiting never, frustrating verbs to rip/ My rap ratings eradicate/ For me to take rhythms and mate 'em with rhymes in mating season/ Creating s*** never before made it/ I'm makin hybrids, created potent enough to open eyelids/ and leave pupils dilated, stress is alleviated/ Now it's easier, plus economically feasible/ for me to leave rap listeners queasy and inebriated/ We made it we came, dedicated we rated supreme/ Even with or without the cream").
The Rasheed produced "Soundman" is about as `club' as OK ever gets. Over the thumping base and hard drum snap both rappers choose to show the audience why they're the self-proclaimed "God's gift to vo-cabulary". Similarly "Move" tells of club exploits, using their spoken words to move the crowd instead of beat (which is pretty stripped down to its base). "Confrontations" is a bit more slowed down, although still driven by a hard bass and basic drums provided by Showbiz. The chorus is not quite as compelling as the others, and while this may be the weakest track, I'd still rate it a 7/10.
"Numbers" has an ominous feel as echoing bell tolls roll over another hard thumping bass line. OK's mathematic raps make even the greatest MCs look inferior (Prince: "20 thousand Leagues, extra deep/ Runnin with the number 13 with my 40 Below's upon the feet/ Now Adam 12 got me in this 20-20/ so I'm double O seven about my 4-1-1/ 74 catch my 83 degrees of heat/ We merkin four-twenty eat island three five N2Deep/ Mack 10 under seat for carjacking Passenger 57's/ A Product 19 who gets the dumpster behind 7 Eleven/ 4-1-0-8-0-9-1-5-9/ Same 2-2-7 style with one nosy b**** in the blind/ Hit, one-five-five for twenty sacks and better/ Nothin but love for this n****, Mr. 16th Letter"). This proves to be another album highlight.
It's good to see OK save most their sex exploits for one track "Shugah Shorty", which allows them to be completely focused when they completely rip the track. Thank goodness Hurricane G's verse is held to only 2 lines, because based on those 2 she could have seriously ruined this stellar track (and it's one of the only tracks that goes along with the skits). Buckwild follows with the introspective "Invertro". The xylophone is a perfect match for the tracks subject matter as OK spits their usual quick paced rhymes about their upbringings and faith.
"Chuck Cheese" has a dark cinematic feel. Prince Po, on his own, weaves a story-telling rap that would make Slick Rick proud. Po shows he can definitely hold his own, as this turns out to be another solid track. While the concept of "Sin" is on point and the lyrics are pretty tight, it's hard to listen to repeatedly. Nevertheless, you can't fault Pharaohe for being creative. Maybe the concept album didn't work, but they still know how to bring a thought provoking concept track. The best example of this is the absolutely chilling "Hate". The track actually has Monch rapping from the point-of-view of a racist and Prince Po as a Neo-Nazi. Prince Po's verse was so disturbing and thought provoking; he was given Hip-Hop Quotable for the source. You won't sleep easy after this one.
The final track closes this album on a strong note. An untypical Rockwilder beat for "Somehow, Someway" compliments stunning performances by both rappers (PM: "Pharoahe, eager to see feeble intermediate MCs/ Immediately, deleted repeated-ily/ Y'all know the unprecedented/ without herb every single word'll be verbally demented/ Presented, so that when it disintegrates/ no sentiments, are imminent/ Standin alone against your tenement"). There's a bonus track here as well, "United As One" which is merely ok, cause it never allows either member of OK to really get into a full verse.
So, the overall concept of the album failed. Masta Ace, Prince Paul, and even Sticky Fingaz came through later and were successful. Here it really impacts "The Equinox" negatively though, making it nearly impossible to go one track without skipping through a skit. Furthermore it takes up a lot of time on the album. Of the 21 that span 62 min, you are actually left with 1 intro and 14 songs (I included the bonus track), which span only 45 min!! (I actually went through and calculated this by taking off skits that came at the end of tracks too). That really is really quite ridiculous.
Despite the concept aspect of the album, the lyrics are practically perfect. The duo never ever spits anything that's remotely wack and their rhymes are great at WORST. The beats are some of the best that they have ever had to rip the mic over. If "The Equinox" dropped the 20 min of skits and filled half that time with two more great tracks, this would be pushing underground classic status. Instead it'll have your fingers blistering from track skipping. Whoever was the exec producer dropped the ball, and simply the group made a mistake by taking on too much with the concept album idea. I'd still recommend this album, because quite frankly the lyrics are absolutely sick at times and it's some of OK's best stuff... you're just gonna need a bit of patience to truly enjoy it
Equinox as is: 6.5/10
Equinox without the concept/skits: 9/10"