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Hip Hop "from the South" is probably the most versatile when compared to other sub-genres of this phenomenon. On one hand we have acts such as OutKast, Goodie Mob, Cyne; on the other there's UGK, Scarface or the Geto Boys; not to mention Little Brother or Count Bass D. CunninLynguists cannot be put in any of the three groups listed above. Their latest album, "Oneirology" (according to Wikipedia this means "the scietific study of dreams") is the best example for proving my statement.
Since I am obsessed with themes such as death, dreams and all that trippy stuff, I cannot resist but put this album above their previous release, "Dirty Acres", which up till this point was my favourite.
What makes this album an even more pleasant experience is its coherence. Each track flows into the next one, just like certain stages in somebody's dream. Lyrically the rappers have never disappointed and this refers to the new album as well, although there is much less humour than in their previous releases. As a matter of fact, the humor aspect of their rapping has been starting to decline since "Dirty Acres". Whether you like this change or not is a matter of taste, in my case I am satisfied to say the least. When it comes to guest appearances, we have two of the most promising new acts in Hip Hop - Freddie Gibbs and Big K.R.I.T. and they both deliver wonderful verses. I really hope Freddie Gibbs gets a lot of help from Kno (the producer of CunninLynguists) on his upcoming album. Tonedeff, although a more experienced rapper, manages to stay on the same level as the new kids.
Then there's the singing, which with exception to one song, is beautiful. Every time I hear the final seconds of "Darkness (Dream On)" I get chills down my spine. The only hook that is disappointing is the one on "Dreams". "Rising to the top [...] won't stop"? Really, guys? However, I do realize that such track completes the concept of the album. When making a whole set of songs about dreams, how can you not forget the most obvious perspective - dreams understood as ambition, financial success, etc.
While all members of the group contribute greatly to the sound of the project, Kno is the mastermind behind it. The beats fit perfectly to the theme of the album. We get lots of psychedelic sounds (another favorite of mine) combined with a few hypnotizing synths and PHAT bass. Not to mention that the drums Kno uses are really impressive. I must admit one of the things I didn't like about "Death Is Silent" (Kno's solo album from last year) was the drums the producer used.
They seemed to be a little... stiff. Here the rhythm feels natural and flows perfectly. Also, the vocal samples (a signature sound from Kno) do not seem forced and bring their charm, like on all albums by the group. "Darkness (Dream On)" once again comes to mind. I especially like that "mushroom, trees and flowers too" sample playing in the end of the track. The sped up one on, for instance, "Embers" is also very addictive. Of course, there's also "My Habit (I haven't Changed)" which is too damn short! I could listen to that moaning/humming vocal playing in the background for at least 4 minutes.
I always wanted a trippy Hip Hop album. Not that there aren't many out there, but this album fuses "trippy" and "psychedelic" to the maximum. If you're a fan of such sounds and fantastic rapping, this is an album for you. Normally when Hip Hop classics are discussed, titles like "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold us Back", "Illmatic", "Criminal Minded" or "Madvillainy" are being mentioned. I, however, am pretty confident this album will be brought into that discussion, because it is so near to being perfect.
- Robert Fornalski