A track by track summary of 'Backgammon' by Conspicuous The Coroner of The Colony, out on Ottomanelfmusic.
The high quality production values of this album slap you in the face from the very first track, the moody 'Eyes Closed' produced by DJ Dise. The beat, along with the vocals which have a particular 'intro track' vibe about them, gel well and begin the album nicely.
The self produced 'And So I Blessed It' features Seanie T and Willo-The Wisp. It includes some nice scratched in samples of Ludacris rapping the artist's name. The lyrics aren't too weighty which mixes nicely with the soft and high pitched strings and soul sample.
The Evil ED produced 'Focussed' features Shaun Escoffery. The loop has a nice piano thing going on, alongside a quite simple but hard drum pattern. Conspicuous gets into his flow nicely and talks about the industry, record sales figures and working hard. It's sort of a battle number but isn't egotistic or aggy. Escoffery's vocals add a classy and soulful chorus.
'Beautiful Times' features an eleven year old Conspicuous and is produced by Propaganda. The song's concept is an interesting and entertaining one which is quite original and pulled off perfectly.
The beat on 'Cesar Romero', care of Jehst, has a subtle latin flavour to it, but a gentle one which works nicely and isn't made too obvious and pretentious. The chorus of the track is really catchy and the lyrics are light hearted and enjoyable. Is Jehst becoming as accomplished a producer as he is rapper? Very possibly.
Evil Ed's second contribution to the album is the laid back 'Write A Song For Me' featuring Shameless. The lyrics of both rappers weave in names of artist's and their songs to create a tribute to the enjoyment of music. The beat has a slight jazzy feel to it due to the piano loop.
'15 Minutes Of Fame' features Cal-I and is self produced by Conspicuous. It borrows largely from 'Innervisions' by Stevie Wonder, impressively sampling the perfect segment from the original. The verses are rapped very nicely, showcasing an honest and personal set of lyrics. Cal-I's take on Wonder's original chorus is a little poor to the ears of hardcore Stevie fans, but won't bother those unaware of the original tune.
'Want Me Back' features fellow Colony member Sir Smurf Little. The track begins with the two rappers talking about speaking and getting things off the chest. The verses back this up, with personal and heartfelt lyrics over an extremely impressive beat which uses a soul sample, some sparse electric guitar and a dope drum pattern. The chorus is extremely soulful and classy. Surely an album highlight.
'Art Of Depression' features another Colony member. This time Grimlok. It's not as down in the dumps as the title suggests but is still fairly moody and introspective in terms of lyrics and vocals. Cuts, care of DJ Skully who handles them across the whole album, throw in a few small samples that up the atmosphere.
'Snake Eyes' sees Conspicuous joined by Dirty Kitchen and Ophkea. As with several of the album's middle segment songs, it's again produced by the artist. The chorus links in with the album title.
'Colonize The Sky' is produced by Ghost. The beat is fairly chilled and the vocals are solid. The hook is catchy and the vibes escilate nicely into an atmospheric closure where the hook and loop runs and runs nicely.
'Days Of Our Lives' has a very nice piano and saxophone loop which matches the tone and lyrics of Conspicuous's verse perfectly. The verses are quite introspective once more and of a reflective nature. There's a cool line about flying cars in the year 2k and some undertones of conspiracy theory.
On the Apollo produced 'Life I lead', Conspicuous drops his verses in an impressive flow which is different to the rest of the tracks. It's for this reason that it's one of the more noticeable album tracks, even though there's not much happening in the beat and there isn't too strong a sense of a song topic or idea.
'Death Of A Gemini' has a violin soaked loop with a fresh drum pattern. Again, the flow is handled differently to the majority of the other tracks and so the song stands out from the rest of the track list. The tempo of the vocals is quite pacey and the track's one of the more head nodding affairs of the LP.
'Untitled' produced by Propaganda ends the album in a suitable style. It's a deep track, dedicated and about the passing of a relative. Although rooted in the artist's personal emotions, there's lyrics in there about universal feelings that all can relate to, dealing with the questions that arise about afterlife etc.
The sequencing of the album in terms of the different types of productions it includes seems very even and well planned. The collection of tracks offer a sense of continuity and result in the album feeling very well rounded and solid. This is especially impressive considering seven different producers contribute music.
Perhaps a couple of the later tracks which showcased a different flow to Conspicuous's usual style could have been spread out a little further, although it's not a major requirement.
One of the nicest things about the album is the picture presented of its artist. There is hardly, if at all, any sign of ego. Everything is consistently honest, from the heart and deep. There's a strong sense of getting to know the person behind the lyrics and it's easy to appreciate the album as a whole because of this. Most definitely one of the nicest UK hip-hop releases of the year.