Souled Separately

Artist: Feenom CircleTitle: Souled SeparatelyRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: aqua boogie

For every major label artist there are likely dozens of unsigned ones seeking to be heard. Thankfully, the independent music circuit has granted many the ability to create music of their liking and fully stretch out their creative arms. In many cases, that means mediocre rappers and groups with good distribution have created stale product destined to collect dust in bins worldwide. However, in some cases, as is with Feenom Circle’s Souled Separately (Melatone Music), the extra leeway results in progressive (read: good) hip-hop.

Feenom Circle is a three deep group repping the Bay Area, specifically Oakland, and is closer to the lyrical and creative school of Heiroglyphics than the pop ya collar pimpery of an E-40 or DJ Quik. Carefree memories of hip-hop yesteryear come to mind when listening to the back and forth freestyle banter on the album’s opener “Nothing Yet”. The rest of the album isn’t mind blowing but nevertheless is consistent lyrically, musically and conceptually. Things all come to fruition on the closer “Days Go By” where sublime keys and sparse yet concise drums combine with their poignant lyrics and a hook that illustrates why they do this to begin with, “Living in the moment, trying to live out my destiny, came from the strongest source, ain't gonna wander, off course, still the days go by, blessed one time, night and day coincide, I just want to live…"

Despite a few so-so cuts, “I Ain’t Askin’” won’t answer any pleas for heavy rotation, most songs lean toward reverance like “Tunnel Vision,” which is straight spittin’ over a wicked break beat reminiscent of Indelible Emcee’s “Fire in Which You Burn.” Unfortunately this cut only clocks in at less than two minutes!

At a mere nine cuts deep the album plays more like a tardy EP than an album. But if the endeavor is to develop eagerness for more from this group and their subsequent projects, they have done a superb job. Soul Separately is indeed a derivative of an increasingly less traveled path of hip-hop intended to nurture listeners and challenge them to consider hip-hop music that isn’t in cookie cutter format. Feenom Circle requires you to not only listen but think and nod your head at the same time, only those with high hip-hop IQs need try.