Artist: Mos Def/Medina GreenTitle: U Know The Flex, Vol. 1Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Boudreaux The Love Child
Everyone is proud of their hometown but Brooklyn, NY citizens are especially fanatical about reppin’ their habitat. That devotion is evident throughout U Know The Flex Mixtape Vol. 1. Presented by the Mighty Mos Def and Illson Media, the CD showcases music from emcees Mos and Illson for self, as well as music from the latter’s group, Medina Green, which includes rappers Ato, Magnetic and Jah Born.
Older material is presented here to get the unacquainted up to speed with the Mos Def and Medina connection. “Crosstown Beef,” which originally appeared on Rawkus’ Soundbombing 2 compilation, still sounds fresh with the Pos Dnous provided shimmering groove illuminating Mos, Ato and Illson’s (then known as DCQ) oratories of hood related drama. Mos provides a different take on the topic with last year’s Minnesota produced “Beef” single. With authoritative verbal jabs, he mercilessly lays out the triviality of rapper sirloin: “Beef is not what these famous n##### do on the mic, beef is what George Bush would do in a fight.”
Though Mr. Def is without question the star of the crew, the other participants pull their own weight, especially since the rapper/actor’s participation is minimal (“Excellence,” featuring wailing horns and soft piano keys courtesy of a Galt McDermot sample is his only other appearance). On “Slow & Tender” Medina Green flex their skills over mechanized effects and nimble claps while on “Oki Doki” Illson, whose conversational flow is never hurried and effectively presents his descriptive lyrics, drops playful verses about his women of choice over nimbly paced chords.
Overall the work maintains the feel of a no frills album put together in the basement-production isn’t mind-blowing, but consistent-which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. With skills to match their perseverance it’s only a matter of time before the overground is in the know and flexing their fingers by pressing ‘play’.