Symptomatic Of A Greater Ill

Artist: Darc MindTitle: Symptomatic Of A Greater IllRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Jason Newman

In a discussion of hip-hop's "lost classics", where albums like INI's Center of Attention and J-Live's The Best Part occupy a small, but influential, sector of Hip-Hop, Anticon Records thankfully adds another to the canon. Darc Mind's Symptomatic of a Greater Ill (Anticon), recorded from 1995-97 but shelved indefinitely, finally sees a long-belated release and for fans of mid-90s East Coast rap, the album will immediately become your "new" classic.

Composed of emcee Kevroc and producer X-Ray, Hip-Hop diehards may remember Darc Mind's sole release "Visions of Blur" on the 1997 Soul in the Hole soundtrack. The track, which opens Ill, shows off every facet of Darc Mind that makes much of the album so enjoyable. Sonically, the dark, rumbling bassline and boom-bap drums stand up against any Beatminerz classic. Vocally, Kevroc sounds like the perfect medium between Jurassic 5's Chali 2na and Heltah Skeltah's Rock, with a flow that makes so many of his couplets quotables. (From "Blur": Craven images treasured foul measures forsake for Hip-Hop/Drug abuse inducements aborted seeds out of wedlock.)

For the rest of the album, it's easy to see why Darc Mind were on the same soundtrack as Organized Konfusion and Cocoa Brovaz since they adhere to a similar sonic aesthetic that defined a region and an era. The Illmatic-sampling "I'm Ill" is anchored by drunk horns and raw snare hits while "Rhyme Zone" flips "The Twilight Zone" theme into one of the scariest beats on wax.

Why it took 10 years for this album to drop is another story altogether. How it will be received in a landscape drastically different from 1997 is another. But for cats who consider Pete Rock and Evil Dee gods, Symptomatic of a Greater Ill should find its way into their collection.