A producer rapper combo signed to Rawkus and with a love for jazz and soul driven beats – sound familiar? While the first foray into releasing music once again from Rawkus sees them in familiar territory, producer Double O and MC Naledge would rather you not compare them to Hi-Tek and Talib Kweli – even if memories of Train Of Thought do come to mind.
This is an impressive debut and while not bringing anything new than what previous Rawkus alumni or any of the Native Tongue era brought us – it does take us back to those days with 'Ms Juanita' a straight up homage to Tribe's 'Bonita Applebum' and 'Wheelz Fall Off' an updated version of Souls Of Mischief's '93 Til Infinity'.
The most recognisable track 'Don't Stop' could have easily been a breakout hit, if Jay-Z hadn't released the same sample from 'Show Me What You Got'. But this album isn't about singles, and listened to as a whole you get the picture of what Naledge and Double O are about.
While one track Naledge wants not money, but millions of black kids educated, he later raps about selling drugs on 'Dumb Ass Tales'. This is from an artist who is clearly caught between coming out with an Ivy League degree to the lure of street life, and he quickly addresses the varied approached with open honesty on 'Hypocrite' – admitting to trying to be one thing but not being able to all the time.
With Just Blaze, Pete Rock and former Rawkus artists all giving the thumbs up, these college graduates have the support and mindset for a long-standing career. Although it will be all for the better if they don't take as long to make a second album as we are waiting for another Reflection Eternal one.