Artist: KaziTitle: The Plague (Feat. Oh No)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Jesse Fairfax
If you’re even vaguely familiar with the underground scene you’ve heard the name Stones Throw Records by this point. This West Coast powerhouse has built its reputation for putting out experimental jazz, hip-hop and funk music mainly produced by the extraordinary Madlib. Not falling far from the family tree is his brother Oh No who has begun to build a name for himself as an official producer in his own right. The Plague (B9000 Records) is rapper Kazi on the rhymes (who happened to be Stones Throw’s first 12″ release) and Oh No on the beats is a family affair of sorts.
The opening cut “Pressure” is sure to get heads nodding with a boom-bap sound backed by horns and whistles. The vocal scratches on “Sick With The Art” and throughout the album are reminiscent of vintage Gang Starr. The hooks are one of the album’s strong points, but it’s Oh No’s production that steals the show. “So Invincible” is accentuated by strings that keeps listeners in tune. The soundscape and topic material covers the gamut from party records (“Check It Out”), to love, social commentary (“U.N.I.T.Y.”) and general respect for Hip-Hop as a culture and music.
The minimal flaw with this album is that Kazi’s voice is indistinguishable from the crowd. The audience would have to hear a lot more material than this project to recognize him rapping. He’s good in the booth, and he rhymes with passion but he’s lacking a sound that would set him apart from the rest of the West Coast underground pack. This missing trait is present in Gift of Gab, Chali 2na, Rakaa, Evidence and a few others.
In the end this is a worthwhile effort since both Kazi and Oh No come to the table with ample talent on hand. They should be on the radar for bright futures with their musical endeavors.