Artist: Truth EnolaTitle: 6 O’Clock StraightRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Paine
On De La Soul 19TK album Stakes is High, Mos Def appeared on “Big Brother Beat”, confirming his Native Tongue status. Five years; Mos is famed as a b-boy, media darling, poet, and leader of the new school. Another young MC featured on that criminally slept on album was Truth Enola. From his verse on “Pony Ride” to the remix of the title track, Truth helped liven the album up, and went on to work with DJ Maseo throughout the late 90’s. Patiently waiting his turn in the background for almost a decade, Six O’clock Straight (Solid Records) is Truth Enola’s debut full length.
From the gate, Enola brings an unusual delivery to the table. With a deeply harmonic tone in the vein in Pharohe Monch, Truth rides each beat with great balance, and drives his words with finesse. At certain moments in songs like “No Way No How” and “Crazy” Enola shifts his delivery to a song. Without sounding contrived or crossover, these harmonic moments provide the MC with a thicker, interesting variation of his regular rap voice. In terms of content, Enola provides a variety of subject matter; from pure ventilation on, “How It’s Gonna Be”, to love on “Exactly.” The latter is an outstanding upbeat, explicit love song. It’s danceable, but street tough. That same quality carries into “Here I Am,” which is a crime if it wasn’t a single. With content that matches what most star rappers are saying, mixed with a dope beat – why not. Throughout this album, Truth Enola deviates between gangsta and b-boy. Neither perspective seems contrived. As a lengthy album, the only weakness in Truth Enola’s debut may be that it’s too long. Tracks like, “Everything Gonna Be Alright”, “Lighters Up”, and the uneventful skits seem to miss a beat with the album and are insignificant in the album’s overall picture.
For all the vocal versatility Enola brings, the production might actually steal the show. He has Da Beatminerz to supply the masterful horn driven track accompanied by Phife Dawg, “How It’ Gonna Be,” while more underground famliar Celph Titled provides the textured guitar arrangement on “Know My Name.” It may be De La Soul though, who creates the most interesting canvas for Enola’s words. While their vocal appearance on “Voicetress” left a bit to be desired, Maseo’s production behind “Exactly” adds to the fury they’ve been showing in their independent era. The beat plays with softer percussion, and an early 80’s Earth, Wind & Fire feel mixed with Enola’s singing and harmonic flow. Like several other joints on this defiantly independent album, this should get radio play. To season out the mix, noteworthy producers like Kutmasta Kurt, DJ Spinna, and Geology supply other moving pieces of music. This album won’t allow itself to get stale. The momentum swings back and forth between lyrics and beats to create a satisfying sound.
Enola has been only reaching the masses single to single. This album proves that his dues were well-paid and his album effectively introduces those who didn’t know. With an energetic quality, Six O’clock Straight combines Soul and Hip-Hop, and street and bedroom for a musically pleasing ride. Just as Common and Mos Def were premium endorsements made by De La, Truth Enola extends the streak of top picks from Long Island’s finest.