Self Destruction

Artist: I Self DevineTitle: Self DestructionRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Paine

The Micranots are often remembered for their breakthrough album a decade ago, Return of the Travellahs. If Atmosphere is the heart of the Rhymesayers crew, The Micranots are the backbone. However, the two following albums never equated to the cult success of the first. As the star of the group, I Self Devine may’ve been painted himself into a corner of boom-bap and experimental subject matter. With some new production and an audio canvas all to himself, perhaps Self Destruction (Rhymesayers) can reset the table to a time when poor dubs of that long ago debut were passed around the underground community.

A Micranots record always sounded clustered with noise. Self Destruction uses open spaces to transmit the still potent messages of Self. “Live in the Moment” addresses the wrongs done to Self’s community, and the dealings with. Budah Tye is featured, who drops a gangsta verse in a place many wouldn’t expect. The problem is that other songs, such as “Everyday S**t” and “Ice Cold” [running with a Fat Joe delivery] deal with these same issues. One minute Self is proud to be of it, the next he is filled with angst against it. This makes for a rich album or limited subject-matter depending on expectations. Though the subject is grim, the picture is painted well. Self’s ability to demonstrate his capabilities in timing are shown as well. One of the album’s most interesting songs is “Overthrow.” On top of a classic Pysche loop, Self cuts through the beat with a truckload of momentum. While the content yields to wordplay, he proves that he wants to sound fresh as well as educated at times. That education is best embodied on “N-I-G-G-A,” where I Self Devine brilliantly breaks down the stigma of the word in America. Perhaps Ralph Nader would feel it…

The major distinction in I Self Devine’s going solo is the disappearance of Kool Akiem’s role in production. Instead, Self consulted Atmosphere producer, Ant, Vitamin D, and Seattle’s Jake One, known best for De La Soul’s “Rock Co.Kane Flow.” The results are quite impressive. Most of the songs are based on vocal Soul sampling. One of the better efforts is “Lovc Song,” produced by Bean One, which uses distortion wonderfully. Jake One offers the same craft and hitmaking style as any of his artists. “This Is It” has radio potential, and “Ice Cold” is tailor-made to Self in an aggressive way, bringing in scratch-choruses, a new trait for Jake. The sampling does get a bit redundant when used time after time. However if consistency was intended, the mission was executed. For a summer release, Self Destruction has shivering accounts and analysis mixed with very hopeless themed music.

I Self Devine continues to prove he can break down situations. The album reveals some potentially unfavorable opinions on race, politic, and Hip-hop. These risks are to be commended. The album definitely grows tedious in its failure to turn the corner. The attitude is bleak, and rarely can I Self take himself lightly. When he does, such as “Overthrow,” things break through. Otherwise, this is quite simply a group member trying a new sound to moderate appeal. Vordul Mega and Will.I.Am can certainly attest. This work stands as a nice updated look at a mind and voice that meant so much a decade ago.