Sa-Ra: The Hollywood Recordings

Just as M.O.P. fans have been asking 50 Cent for three straight years, “how about some hardcore?” Kanye West’s GOOD Music imprint has tied a few acts of their own up in paperwork. While it might be a good thing that Fonzworth Bentley is still in development, veteran genre-bending troop Sa-Ra Creative Partners has had flavors for your ear dating back to the early ‘90s. Following a year with success from K-Os and Gym Class Heroes, Sa-Ra’s The Hollywood Recordings (Babygrande) is an appetizer that satisfies like an entrée.Lead single “Feel the Bass” with Talib Kweli is Sa-Ra at their most accessible. The group gives an instrumental that’s one part Spacek, one part Salt N’ Pepa’s “Push It,” while Talib Kweli’s rapid fire flow channels golden age emceeing. Most of the songs are devoted to lovemaking but there are the peppy R&B ballads, such as the Bilal-assisted “Sweet Sour You,” while Pharoahe Monch’s ode to cunalingus, “Fish Fillet” is blush-inducing. While the metaphor might be a bit junior high, the music carries a doctorate of spacey funk, dynamic rhythms, and beautiful vocal accents. With the exception of the misguided Capone-N-Noreaga collaboration, “Not on Our Level,” Sa-Ra proves infinite capabilities in their craft and vision.The trio uses guests to add signature to each track. Often providing just a chorus, the band still refuses to be underplayed. Led by Shafiq Husayn, the Sa-Ra Creative Partners sound lives up to its name, utilizing over 12 instruments. With just one sample—a Herbie Hancock chop on “Hey Love,” this is organic Hip-Hop at its best. Whether it’s the underwater funk of “Lean on Me” or the broken Jazz of “And If,” Sa-Ra’s sound could be described as an iPod virus gone terribly right.Summertime rap has always favored a relaxed, sensual and mellow vibe. Sa-Ra’s The Hollywood Recordings look into the horizon of sound and style and offer the warmer months something unduplicated. While rappers typically produce mixtape hybrids in the independent pre-release lane, these guys use full creative control amidst a plethora of interesting guests in their first nationally recognized album.