Blackalicious – Melodica album review

Everything about Blackalicious’s EP Melodica  exudes classic. From Gift of Gab’s complex raps to Chief Xcel’s extremely fresh production, their debut EP should be used as an example for every rapper on how to make a classic album. The production on the album takes elements from every genre, creating a melting pot of sounds that Gift of Gab conforms to in each track.

“Swan Lake” begins with a clash of sounds that sound like the beginning to a rock track, then quickly descends into the smooth sounds of jazz. Gift of Gab’s delivery is also as smooth as honey pouring over the infectious saxophone blares.

“This is a song called ‘Attica Black’. A song about mediocracy, hip hop, and just in general the mediocracy in life. I hope you enjoy our presentation,” explains Gift of Gab at the beginning of Attica Black. The syrupy blues sound takes over and the track begins, pretty much summing up the sound of the 90’s all in one track. Most of the tracks on the album are laid back and soupy, but when Gift of Gab goes hard, he does it well. “Lyric of Fathom” gets in your face with an abrasive attitude and a delivery similar to the early sound of Outkast’s Big Boi. “Deep in the Jungle” also brings the heat with a double time delivery, that shows early signs of the speed rap seen in recent rappers like Ludacris and Twista.

An ode to malt liquor and urban life, “40 Oz for Breakfast” is over seven minutes long with an extremely chill and euphoric beats with hints of piano that creates a creamy sound that moves fluidly around Gift of Gab’s complex storytelling about his life. Melodica comes to an end with “Change” a serene effort that highlights Gift of Gab revealing his insecurities about life and living, something that everyone can relate to.

Melodica is one of those timeless albums that will go down in hip hop history as something that no matter what the time period, people can always find a track in the album that speaks to them. Whether it’s the perils of urban life or just plain inner insecurities, Gift of Gab puts his problem’s on the table so that we all know that we aren’t alone.

Blackalicious Crown City Rockers Reviews The Mighty Underdogs

Blackalicious, Crown City Rockers & The Mighty Underdogs at Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom

by Adam LeBlanc

Lyricist Gift of Gab and DJ-producer Chief Xcel make-up the legendary BLACKALICIOUS who, for over 15 years have repeatedly pushed the envelope and set new precedents with Gab’s uber-clever thought-provoking lyrics and dextrous delivery and Xcel’s timely executed beats, breaks, rhythms and samples.

Acts that consistently bring this much substance to the table oftentimes have little to no room for improvement in a live setting. Each cut being so meticulously planned and constructed that the notion of anything aside from studio work reaching this calibre seems to be an absurdity. With the release of last year’s “4/20 Live In Seattle” DVD Blacklicious proved this notion very wrong and re-confirmed their place as a bona fide elite West Coast act.

Returning to the Pacific Northwest, Blackalicious brought a solid opening act with them in Boston’s Crown City Rockers. Fronted by gifted emcee Raashan Ahmad this quartet really mixed it up, with their apex coming late in the set when Ahmad and drummer/lyricist, Headnodic exchanged machine gun speed verbal assaults while the other provided the brisk beat on a snare drum.

Now in proper mindset, the crowd was salivating in eager anticipation of the Northern California headliners to grace the stage. After a humble intro Gift of Gab completely opened-up with his brilliant and dizzying fluidity. At this point, those who were not previously familiar with Blacklicious were easily recognized – they were the random Vancouverites with baffled stares, open mouths and noticeably lower jaw bones.

Chief Xcel supremely contributed to the live nature of the show by furiously and methodically demonstrating his magic somewhere between his decks and a Macbook at the back of the stage. Multi tonal-laden beats, varying tempos and well-selected samples added perfect complement to Gab’s verses and physical theatrics.

Elated, the crowd really could not ask for more. They got more.

At the halfway mark in the show, Gab introduced close friend and also very gifted lyricist Lateef the Truth Speaker who has closely collaborated with both members since 1992. Currently, Gift of Gab and Lateef make-up The Mighty Underdogs while Lateef and Chief Xcel together are know as The Maroons.

The chemistry between the three veterans was quickly apparent to all as they presented awe-inspiring versions of many classic Blackalicious cuts. Having Gab and Lateef on the same stage, interacting lyrically and physically added a dimension to the show that noone could have expected but was definitely received in the greatest of satisfacition.

In all, the show was far more than expected; it showcased the strengths of a legitimate underground pioneer and helped me confirm the repeated rumors I’ve heard that hip hop is alive and well in Vancouver, BC.

Original Article