National Anthem

Artist: The Away TeamTitle: National AnthemRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Chris Yuscavage

Riding alongside fellow North Carolina residents and Justus League members Little Brother, it is almost too fitting that The Away Team, consisting of emcee Sean Boog and producer Khrysis, would take the role of younger siblings on their debut album National Anthem (6 Hole Records) to Phonte, Big Pooh, and 9th Wonder. Patterned similarly and also likewise attacking the complex intricacies of simple everyday life down in N.C., Boog’s often monotonous flow over Khrysis’ 9th-like drum patterns and sped-up soul samples tackles everything from an estranged pops (“Always Be Around”) to the daily grind and hustle (“On the Line”).

Opining on his last call at the end of a drinking binge on National Anthem’s (NA) lead single, “Likka Hi (Last Call),” Boog remarks, “Nothing beats cold Corona with a splash of lime, That’s one of my problems right there, Think I’m better off to sticking to light beer.” Cleverly packing the alcohol-induced anthem with one last foamy beverage call, he gives a final comical toast on a classier record than other Hip-hop liquor-laced rants (i.e. J-Zone’s “Lightweight (Remix)” or Copywrite’s “Happy Hour”).

Aside from the concept “Likka Hi” though, Boog and Khrysis tend to stick with what works for Justus League members: either playing little brother or including Little Brother elsewhere on NA. Phonte knocks with a flurry of one-liners on “Make It Hot,” spitting, “Your rhymes losin’, n----/You couldn’t make the crowd jump to a conclusion, n----.” Boog struggles to keep up or even match his elder emcee’s precision on the mic, but his occasional - “I’m rap’s lawyer – I get girls off,” on “The Blah Blah” – witticism manages to break out of his otherwise so-so delivery.

Lambasting the no-good lying females of his world on “F*ck You” over the soft strings of Khrysis or sending out a similar message to his deadbeat dad on “Always Be Around” aside, NA comes across as little more than a opportunity bestowed upon the Little Brother affiliates to create a glorified version of a Justus League mixtape. Cue up National Anthem, but, in true competitive fashion, don’t expect The Away Team to get as much love in other cities as in their own hometown.