The Waiting Room

Artist: EmanonTitle: The Waiting RoomRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Max Herman

Emanon is one of Southern California’s best-kept secrets. This Orange County duo, comprised of MC Aloe Blacc and DJ/producer Exile, has been making music together since 1995, but until recently, only a select few have gotten their hands on their material. Following up on their well-received 2002 EP Anon and On, these two finally have an official album to their name and it’s a damn good one. The Waiting Room (Shaman Work) properly introduces the world to the combination of Aloe’s cool vocals and the unpredictable production of DJ Exile.

“Whether it’s jazz or funk or soul music/folk songs, rock & roll I’m gonna use it,” raps Aloe on “Make Music.” While Aloe only contributes production on two tracks, this declaration sums up Emanon’s sound pretty well. Beginning with the jubilant reggae-flavored single, “Count Your Blessings” to the chill jazz on the closing song “Farewell,” Emanon truly draws from just about every type of music one could think of. But what really sets them apart from other Hip-hop duos is their ability to feed off each other’s talents. Cuts like “A Story” and “Ahh Quai” see Exile craft some erratic tempo-shifting beats, which Aloe effortlessly flows right alongside to. Exile never returns with the same beat and Aloe doesn’t seem to mind a bit. Being that Aloe is a trained musician and occasional beat maker, he caries a certain respect for Exile’s music that most MCs wouldn’t. And as Exile occasionally picks up the mic himself (see “Six Million Ways”), his appreciation for Aloe’s sharp yet comprehensible lyricism only adds to their chemistry on wax.

The Hip-hop of Emanon may not necessarily be hard-hitting, but it manages to powerfully undertake social issues, love songs and b-boy manifestos alongside a remarkable medley of music. Until somebody proves otherwise, they’re the best hip-hop act to come out of the O.C.