Vintage

Artist: All NaturalTitle: VintageRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Christopher Yuscavage

Hailing from the Southside of Chicago, DJ Tone B. Nimble and partner-in-rhyme Capital D are, as Masta Ace once called himself, “all natural like a case of Snapple.” As the collective All Natural, the pair has co-signed two previous records, No Additives, No Preservatives and Second Nature with Capital D also adding the solo Insomnia to the All Nat resume. Their third crack at this ol’ Hip-hop thing, Vintage (All Natural), may not exactly thrust them into the forefront of “hip-hop golden age” themed music, but it does successfully stray away from the blinged-out rhymes of 2005 just long enough to touch vintage-like topics of change and revolution in a fresh-sounding way.

Following in the “I’m on the 1’s and 2’s, you’re on the mic” attitudes of such artists as Gangstarr and Eric B. & Rakim, Capital D handles the lyricism of Vintage, while Tone sticks to incorporating the scratches behind-the-scenes of a good majority of the album’s hooks and choruses – outsourcing the production on the album to the likes of the Molemen’s Panik and All Natural affiliates Dug Infinite, Stoney Rock, and Kenny Keys.

Vintage’s lead single, “Keep It Movin’,” does just that, as Cap D and former Artifacts member El Da Sensai pair to deliver “that bonafide fly, supply shit from the Chi.” The lyrical fun between the two revolves around the flavorful Dug Infinite creation and El’s question: “What you rhyme for, if your s—t ain’t raw?”

,br>Capital D makes sure to relay the message that Chicago “cubs” never forget where they come from on “Southside (Chicago),” a skillful explanation of the All Natural hometown, where Cap tries to, as per his liner notes, “prove that you can deal straight-up with the gritty inner-city without glorifying or judging it.” Over the windy cool and head-nodding production, he walks through the streets etched into the minds of his fellow Chicagoans and welcomes in the outsiders all the same. But where Vintage is most successful is when Capital D touches on pressing issues without sacrificing his on-point flow or interesting dialogue. The gritty flutes and kicking snares of the S.C.-produced “Queens Get the Money, Part II” provide the perfect backdrop for Cap to urge females to keep their clothes on, even quoting Snoop Dogg’s immortal words, “We don’t love these h–s,” to try getting the urgent message across. Call it all natural consciousness minus the filling commercial carbs.

Vintage even takes the time to prove its name with the cover of A Tribe Called Quest on “Check the Time,” where producer Kenny Keys keeps the funky vibes of the original intact but Cap injects politicized rhymes attacking President Bush, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft, and the war in Iraq. While the commercial-bashing “Heel-Toe” has been done time and time again by the underground’s elite, Cap’s humorous lines like, “Hacks lacked linguistics, they only concerned if they hats match they lipsticks,” help call out commercial rappers and sellouts alike.

While the unnecessary additions are few and far between for the otherwise All Natural boys, Cap’s knack for cramming syllable-upon-syllable into bars (“Corner Pocket”) can grow tired after a few listens. But with the otherwise positive messages that come across as unforced and the refreshing topics on Vintage, their third album proves to just add to their charm – an underground duo that truly keeps it “all natural like a case of Snapple.”

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