Artist: BeliefTitle: DedicationRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Paine
After production stints with Jean Grae, C-Rayz Walz, and Vordul Mega, New York-based beatmaker Belief crafts his own album, Dedication (Green Streets), using a different approach than the norm. While many producer albums utilize a vast array of burgeoning or high-profile feature talent, Belief recruited a foursome of unique, established MCs in Murs, C-Rayz, Wordsworth, and Vordul (Cannibal Ox) to work as a unit on the album. This lyrical think-tank makes for a new spin, with more fan interest than most fledging producers could ever dream of.
The MCs use this project to step out. To many people, C-Rayz Walz has always been a court jester. "Goin' Hard" erases all of those notions. This uplifting track is worthy of soundtrack placement as the Bronx bomber cleanses his soul and shakes off the past overtop a Gregorian chant. "Getyourmindright" is a similar exercise with Murs and A.G., pairing Los Angeles and New York, within a song devoted to redemption amidst dirty deeds. Typically more contained than the other three MCs, Wordsworth's deft lyricism showcases on "Runs the World", a political commentary on America's forceful global tactics. Though the effort doesn't neatly blend into Dedication, Words' penetrating delivery gives Belief's music some added range.
Given that the lyrical quartet drives the album, Belief's abilities do get upstaged a bit. Unlike RJD2 or Pete Rock albums, the music, albeit charged, doesn't evoke the feelings that many of the MCs attempt to convey. Instead, Belief attempts a more D.I.T.C. minded approach, good loops, familiar samples, and passively letting the MCs do their job. Three instrumental records sneak in, which serve more as intermissions between the vocals. "Passion Aggressive" is a pensive, but spirited work that incorporates Jazz and Electronic elements, with a dusty Hip-Hop undertone. Although he's extra late to the party when it comes to sampling "Planet Rock" this year, Belief holds his own on the boards, proof of his lengthy resume.
Several years ago, Soul Supreme's Saturday Night Agenda gave a platform for elder MCs to connect with an blossoming energetic producer. Belief has plenty of experience, but Dedication welcomes his closest artists to collaborate on an effort, that gives the producer his own identity. The quality of the songs themselves are some of the best work from C-Rayz and Vordul to date, but the question remains as to whether the man who actually brought these forces together means as much as the voices who make it happen.