As If We Existed

Artist: Sol.illaquists Of SoundTitle: As If We ExistedRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Dr. Zero

The phrase "socially conscious Hip-Hop" produces a myriad of different responses. Some fans feel that this is the form of the art that will save it from its current state of complacency and played out themes of materialism, misogyny, and braggadocio. Others can't stand music with socially conscious themes because they feel that it is too serious and involves topics that the common person is not interested in hearing about on record such as spaceships, saving the world or things that can be seen on the evening news. Despite the various opinions, this form of Hip-Hop is here to stay. The Sol.iLLaquists of Sound (discovered by outspoken underground rapper Sage Francis) is picking up where their predecessors left off with their first studio release As if We Existed (Anti/Epitaph).

As if We Existed has the ability to make the most hardcore fan of mainstream Hip-Hop at least consider listening to more artists not advertised on MTV, BET, or VH1. This specific crowd usually pays attention to music with catchy, simplistic tunes that have mostly head-nod factor. Many underground albums despite the great rhymes and thought-provoking messages are filled with incomplete, choppy, and sloppily-arranged sounds due to anything from the lack of budget to the rapper not having a great ear for music. The lead producer of the group DiVINCi ensured this effort would not be weighed down by unfinished production by blending live instruments with average constructed rhythms creating a mind-blowing listening experience. “Mark it Place” illustrates this concept beautifully with its mix of rapid piano riffs, drum patterns, guitar riffs and medium tempo hatching a refreshing sound. "Pledge of Resonance" combines bells, pianos, and fast drum arrangements also creating a surprisingly slow, melodic, rhythm.

Consistency and cohesiveness is also something that should be noted. Each song fits into the underlying theme of challenging people to question societal norms instead of venturing off on unrelated topics. "Property and Malt Liquor" discuss alcoholism and how it is hurting the community. "Black Guy Peace" deals with cultural revolution. Lead MC Swamburger delivers an exceptional lyrical performance on each track with his crystal-clear flow and undeniably exceptional lyrics. Lead vocalist Alexandrah and Tonya Combs do a commendable job on backup vocals as well showcasing range and harmonizing with DiVINCi's unique and eclectic sound.

Despite suffering from being too short, As If We Existed is a complete album that dispels the notion that music can't have a message with incredible musical arrangements.