Artist: Basic VocabTitle: The General DynamicRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Sidik Fofana
Ironically, the one rap group from the South called Basic Vocab actually surpasses its name. This reference is of course to Basic Vocab, a trio harvested fresh from the M-I-A. Their debutoffering, The General Dynamic (AVX Music Group), is quite different from the crunk juice that drips down many southern faucets; meaning it’s more of a head nodder than a head bussa, more of a mind teaser than a salt shaker, a little more sweet sweet than skeet skeet. In short, Basic Vocab brings that mello “burn an incense” Hip-Hop and they prefer to get in your mind before they get in your behind.
From the intro, one thing is noticeable. These boys, JL Sorrell and Mental Growth on the mic and Tony Galvin on the boards, don’t have accents when they flow. Given that this trio is from Florida, you kind of expect a “Nuck If You Buck” type vibe. Yet, to the contrary, Basic Vocab distance themselves from that facet of the culture from the get go. The pop out track is the romantically draped “Come Get With It” where JL Sorrell and Mental provide lyrical foreplay to a track laced with simple but alluring synthy keyboard chords. Still, the two MCs do their social duty and balance game spittin’ personas with the conscious words. On the track “Fallen Ones”, JL raps, “Any circumstance in the Middle East/Is like the inner city beef/Except the black turban and ball caps is gold teeth…” There’s nothing more dangerous than young black men who are politically aware.
What is remarkable, and questionable at the same time, about Basic Vocab is that both Mental Growth and JL hold the fort down lyrically. That itself is praiseworthy since a lot of rap ensembles have just one main thoroughbred (think Q-Tip vs. Phife, no ffense) most times that keeps the vinyl spinning. But in Basic Vocab, Mental and JL are more even keeled as say, Mos Def and Talib Kweli. However, it’s very hard to distinguish their voices at times, since they don’t offer that opposite pole clash that gives a group like Outkast its electricity.
Unfortunately for today’s MC, this is the age where producers are the prima donnas of their respective cliques. For now, it is no different for Basic Vocab, as Tony Galvin the group’s the main sound man, will probably attract a considerable portion of the group’s attention. He has made a name for himself having done tracks for T.I, Young Jeezy, Dead Prez, Cee Lo, etc. Nonetheless, these guys JL and Mental can stick with many cats in the game lyrically, which is always a plus no matter what time it is. All in all, they put out a pretty good album, and they are from Miami, so the future is always bright.