Artist: SpooksTitle: Faster Than You Know…Rating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Paine
Three years ago, Spooks brought the five deep crew to our ears with Things Ive Seen off of their debut S.I.O.S.O.S., Vol. 1. Still with an eerie video presenting the crews hit, few people cared to check for more. Thanks to overseas success, the group went gold. But soon after, Kurupts Antra Records folded, and the crew was left homeless and lost in the shuffle. Water Water, who disbanded from Spooks in 2002, died in a car accident this past year. Just when Spooks were all but forgotten, a follow-up arrives to see if Americans will grasp what the Europeans thought was dope.
The most unique element of Spooks is female vocalist Ming. Her dark crooning is responsible for the hit-making potential in Spooks work. Hyponotik, Bookah T and Joe Davis are all talented but ordinary MCs who fight to distinguish themselves from each other. Bookah T somewhat succeeds with his raspy delivery and more gangsta content. Spooks have very populist content matter in each track; writing for the common people, and representing the poor and hopeless very well. My Favorite Song is a track that captures Spooks at their best: strong singing, minimal rapping, and mood-specific. Other album highlights include the boringly titled, Spooks, Change, and the light-hearted skit, Broke.
Production might be one of the reasons that Spooks arent frontline. They struggle to find a balance in tracks for Ming, and tracks for the MCs. In order to rescue themselves from the too dark criticism, the group misplaced some uptempo tracks like In On It and an awkward rocked out bonus cut on the album. Two thirds of the album sounds just right, but the group still sticks to the script in dark moods and desperate content matter. Pitch Black, Dave West, and Da Beatminerz all contributed some assistance in addition to the groups own production. Spooks still seem to show that if they want the respect of an instrumental, genre-bending group, they need to stick in-house.
Compared to the group chemistry and musical cohesiveness of Bad Boys Da Band, Spooks are golden gods. They have a definite vibe, and every member has a clearly defined role and specialty. Still, the group paints themselves into a corner with that mood. Although commercially, the groups debut mayve been panned in the United States, it made much purer attempts at the art. This album tries to cater to the masses, and seems to miss at points. Still, for those who appreciate Spooks unique collective, there are some gems in between the cracks.