Good Music

Artist: Lone CatalystsTitle: Good MusicRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Jamin Warren

Perhaps in hopes of cashing in on G.O.O.D. Music’s successful namesake, the Lone Catalysts embark on their sophomore release albeit it with less profitable results. The Kanye Co. comparison, however, is apt in that it marks the two directions of undie Hip-Hop since Rawkus’ slow death after Y2K. While Common, John Legend, and Kanye take the same musical cues as the Pittsburgh duo, the former’s imprint boasts original musicality and creativity; hence, the 20 Grammy nominations. Conversely, J. Sands and J. Rawls are stuck in the bring-it-back Hip-Hop ideology that reminisces more than it rocks on Good Music (B.U.K.A./Superrappin).

“100 Bar Dash” is a classic case. A frenzy of verses from Hip-Hop semi-stars like Wordsworth and Thes One, strung together with half-clever phrases. It’s the kind of track that would have been perfect a half-decade ago on a Lyricist Lounge comp, but seems dated at the end of 2K5.

Without his pals, Sands fairs moderately. He tends to overstuff his verses, barreling through Rawls’ beats rather than riding them. From the embarrassing Spanglish and obligatory Ay Papis on “En La Ciudad” to the aimless references to Nino Brown and the CMB on “Brother’s Keeper,” Sands manages the occasional sharp witticism but struggles to keep his verse coherent and addictive.

Rawls’ production is a good news/bad news scenario. While his sound on Good Music isn’t profoundly different from the Black Star material that made his name or the 3582 tracks with Fat Jon, Rawls’ knows his limitations and abilities. The ghostly synth and popping snare on “Afta Da Jawn” is a great J. Dilla mock up and an appearance from a well-missed Jonell on “Once Before” pulls heavily from the “Brown Skin Lady” motif. Rawls certainly holds his own on the boards, but it’s not enough.

The Lone Cats, however, may actually have the last laugh. Good Music will fit perfectly for foreign heads who eat up anything that evokes hints of Pete Rock. (Moreover, a sale abroad is worth twice the bucks given the weak dollar.) But it won’t win any new stateside fans. Frankly, OK Music would have been a better title.