Wednesday, April 21st, 2010 at 2:38 pm
Since the dawn of rhyme, emcees have found inspiration in partnering with producers. From Eric B and Rakim, DJ Premier and Guru, to Hi-Tek and Talib Kweli, proper production and undeniable chemistry have proven to bring out the best in artists, both behind the boards and on the mic. More recently full-length collaborations between the likes of Dr. Dre and Eminem, Statik Selektah and Saigon, and Jake One and Freeway have exemplified the abilities of such lyricists to paint pictures on a canvas of complimentary productions. In regards to the latter, Seattle native, Jake One once again takes control of sample-laden grunt work to formulate flattering instrumentals for newcomer, TRUTHLiVE. Patience relies on the Seattle beatsmith’s production to guide TRUTH through the themes of nostalgia, distrust for establishment, and disdain for the industry, although TRUTHLiVE doesn’t always follow through on his promises and his attempts of social criticism often boarder on preachy, thus becoming lost in translation.
It’s apparent upon first listen that TRUTHLiVE has a backpacker appeal, and he’s not hesitant to mention it. Opening the album with one-liners like “this flow is slept-on like waterbeds,” the emcee who calls California home seems uninterested in drawing parallels between himself and other West Coast rappers. Although LiVE often goes beyond his capacity to touch on social issues, he sounds more comfortable taking a laidback approach which is evident from “Ready Set Go.” Over a soulful composition by Jake One, TRUTH and Moe Green trade bars with ease. Jake One continues his skillful manipulation of samples on “Poetry in Motion” in which TRUTHLiVE attempts to gain a lady’s attention. The track is surprisingly well executed, demonstrating TRUTH’s ability shift styles and stay on topic; besides, the dope instrumental doesn’t exactly hurt either. LiVE uses the previous track’s momentum to steamroll through “Remind Rewind.” Von Pea of Tanya Morgan jumps in over the boom-bap oriented tracks in which both emcees reminisce on classic Hip Hop tracks. Later, TRUTHLiVE links up with Tanya Morgan member Donwill on “You Do You” with favorable results. “The Bush Years” features a standout instrumental in Jake One’s catalogue. TRUTHLiVE shifts gears and attempts to exemplify his name on this anti-institutional jam. Alleging that the powers that be are conspiring, TRUTH gracefully spits, “to me what I see, the agenda is clear/they want absolute power and the hour is near/you see it’s not what it is, it’s how it appears/and terrorism only works if you living in fear/for the New World Order to exist/they create false threats then make them persist.“ Unfortunately the hook is not up to par with the verses, which easily hinders the cut’s repeat value. TRUTHLiVE once again demonstrates his lyrical prowess with better results on “Catalyst For Change.” TRUTH demonstrates his ability to emcee as he manages to outshine guests, Finale and Ras Kass, who don’t exactly fall short themselves. Over a melodic production, TRUTH smoothly drops gems such as “I don’t really care what they spit/I elevate my conscience like thought powered spaceships.” TRUTHLiVE criticizes the age of new media on “Digital Courage,” lashing out at bloggers, attempted character assassinations, and status updates. This is a truly genuine look into the mind of TRUTHLiVE who ponders over the sense of courage people achieve from hiding behind a computer as opposed to in face-to-face interactions. Cynically, LiVE voices his concern for the state of the music industry and the manner in which bloggers attempt to dictate taste and content (“taste makers are setting the flavor/like it’s cooler to be indy that it is to be major“).
For every highpoint on Patience, we are presented with compositions that teeter on mediocrity. The album takes a darker tone with “It’s Easy.” TRUTH tells the story of a child’s misfortune as he is ridiculed and bullied because of his socioeconomic standing. Although TRUTHLiVE takes an original approach to the subject matter, his motivation fails to have the desired effect which falters on his delivery. On “Patience” Jake laces TRUTHLiVE with a beat that sounds more fitted for a G-Unit release than a glorified indie artist’s debut. Although TRUTH manages to deliver, he’s unable to possess the same mic presence he has on instrumentals that are tailor-made for his style. Patience’s closer, “Nature of a Man” features a beautifully cut piano sample. Unfortunately TRUTHLiVE can’t quite sink his teeth into the production and despite his efforts, it sounds like just another cliché conscious rap song.
Clearly TRUTHLiVE recognizes his intended audience and never takes a stab at mainstream recognition on Patience. Yet, TRUTH often strays out of his comfort zone and into consciously oppositional territory, which finds the emcee in over his head. While it’s commendable that he takes a somewhat different perspective than Immortal Technique or Sabac Red, tracks such as “It’s Easy” and “Nature of a Man” fall short in comparison to “Catalyst For Change,” in which LiVE drops a braggadocios sixteen. His flow is so smooth that it’s almost a waste to use it on such a contrived subject manner, or lack thereof, but it’s what he does best. Patience is an interesting first-showing from TRUTHLiVE that definitely benefits Jake One lending his hand with the production. However LiVE clearly fares better, stepping back and taking the simplistic approach of unleashing jaw-dropping punchlines, which is also more likely to appeal to his underground fan base.