Artist: Styles of BeyondTitle: MegadefRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Quia Querisma

I never did really appreciate “Rock Box” by Run DMC until I was old enough to realize that a lot of producers decided to drop guitar riffs in favor of the ass-shaking tunes they could turn out of their beat machines. When rap/rock did hit the mainstream enough for me to hear it, it was in the form of Limp Bizkit.

Styles of Beyond’s (SOB) sophomore release, Megadef is a throwback to the days when it was just as dope to rhyme over hard rock, as it was to rhyme over break beats. The two-man team of Ryu and Tak spend most of this album spitting battle raps over a clean combo of break beats and rock tracks. Actually, DJ Cheapshot’s production is what makes Megadef worth listening to.

Once you get past the intro, the title cut delivers hard guitar riffs, a banging baseline and a hook that’s a montage of scratches and samples of S.O.B.’s phrases. It accurately sets the tone of the album. The production is solid but the team is lacking lyrically.

It’s hard to detect where they’ve settled themselves since they go from “bling bling just to piss you off and make your earl / I’m sippin’ Dom P with some naked girls,” on “Megadef”, then flip to “yo, the joke’s over, slap the blokes over / catch a 40-calibur case of glock-coma,” on “Mr. Brown.”

The Southern California duo also seems to have a fixation with the Brits because their rhymes are laced with British slang, and on “Bleach” we even get hit with a several bars in a British accent. Maybe they should try their hand at acting because on “Pay Me,” they flip the Midwest-style fast-flow, complete with country accents.

Ryu and Tak are a nice package. Their flows complement each other, Cheapshot more than holds it down production-wise, and hey, they even have New York accents to complement those break beats. If they keep the same formula and nix lines like “riders like Johnny Depp rolling with Wynona,” they can expect to be taken very seriously.