Blood Brothers

Artist: OuterspaceTitle: Blood BrothersRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Omar Hamza

Holding the underground torch high while stressing how it is no sin to like money and nice things seems to be the trend of the day for many a subterranean rapper. Outerspace, the Philly duo who have been putting in work for many years is back for their second official full length in the form of Blood Brothers (Babygrande). Coming stronger than they have on their albums, features, or crew performances this is the group's best work to date. The addition of a stepped up set of producers makes Blood Brothers a must cop for any fan of the Army of the Pharaohs collective.

Planetary and Crypt the Warchild are students of the art of emceeing, graduating from the academy of Pun and G Rap. This is a fact that they do not keep secret but in fact revel in it by sampling lyrical emcees throughout the album. Their precise lyrics and intricate metaphors have been their calling card since they first appeared on Jedi Mind Trick's Violent by Design. These elements are displayed in the unbridled adrenaline rush of "Reign of Chaos" and the wild out anthem, "The Boiling Point". The most noticeable difference between this album and previous efforts is the increased gun talk and mention of the good life. That issue is addressed on Altered Beasts, where Planetary states, "Yo Planteary man what's with all the gun talk?/You too underground/Ni**a this the onslaught!". The aforementioned new view on the nicer things in life comes to a head on the spacey "Grown Ass Man". The hook is self explanatory declaring, "I ain't got to write graf/I'm allowed to like cash/Who you think you talkin' to/I'm a grown ass man."

The duo bucks the trend of their brethren and go outside the crew for a couple of collaborations with so-so results. The Sheek Louch-assisted "U Don't Like Me" sounds like a D-Block mixtape reject. While the Royce da 5'9" collabo, "Street Massacre" is well produced by Sake with his operatic background, it breaks no new ground lyrically. Outerspace still sounds the most comfortable trading lines with JMT's Vinnie Paz on the piano fused, rolling drum vibe of "Silence".

In the end, this album will satisfy the appetite of the old Outerspace fans while helping them recruit new ones. The group manages to do what a lot of their counterparts in the underground don't...improve. Usually listeners notice a drop off in the second release from an under the radar artist. That is not the case here. With a little less rugged production, Outerspace might even find themselves on the commercial level of their hero, Big Pun.