You Don’t Know The Half

Artist: Halftooth Records PresentsTitle: You Don’t Know The HalfRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Paine

Budding labels that debut with a compilation are too often making a mistake. These records make big promises but rarely deliver. Too many artists, no theme, and one good single, maybe. The Halftooth crew has defied this trend. The label that will be the first to deliver to a Wordsworth LP, has pure and absolute heat. You Don’t Know the Half is not just worthy of a way to promote what’s the come, it’s more like an underground The Chronic, one great producer, and the label’s talented MC’s trading verses from beginning to end overtop.

The lyrical attitude of the Halftooth squad is a progression on the Brooklyn underground we’ve enjoyed in the past (though a large part of the crew hails from D.C.) However, unlike a lot of artists right now sitting patiently in the backlight, Halftooth is getting downright cocky. “Walk the Walk” is a track from Ken Starr that ostracizes those rappers who lie to get attention. Ken Starr, along with Oddisee and Dash share the majority of the lyrical duties. They offer strong vocals, bold opinions, and a reliance on rhymes and flow, not the punch-line. Wordsworth must be saving spit for his forthcoming solo, because he only appears twice on the album. The first single from the album is absolutely blazing. “If” by Kenn Starr, Asheru, and Talib Kweli ponders the quality of life if we didn’t have so many things that weigh us down. This track here is unbelievably soothing to the ears, and food for the mind. Along with Talib and Ash, there are heavyweight guest drops on the album from Little Brother, J-Live, and Kev Brown. Every track on this album has a theme, and is balanced with impeccable rhyming over fresh sounding beats. The chemistry from all the collaborating is strong and very recognizable to the listener.

The freshness in the production is almost completely owed to Oddisee. This producer has contributed some work to Jazzy Jeff’s LP, and the No Edge Ups in South Africa project, and he clearly in the central foundation in Halftooth. Because these MC’s have been a part of one movement and in the same circles for so long, a lot depends on Oddisee. He comes through nicely. His productions are loud, very rhythmic, and splash into key and vocal sampling. But that percussion may very well be the secret sauce. Oddisee makes snare drums sound as good as they’ve sounded in years, check Dash’s “In the Middle” for proof. With the MC’s we’ve heard before, Oddisee has given them a completely new surface to rock over. This gives Halftooth a sonic identity.

In the 90’s, compilations mattered. Maybe it was the movies, maybe it was the richness of the talent. Whatever it was, Halftooth Records has introduced themselves with a loud cry of true Renaissance Hip-Hop. The guests make the record more appealing to a curios ear, but Kenn Starr, Oddisee, Dash, and the rest of this crew make this record what it is, and make this label’s tomorrow look bright.

Related Stories