By Del F. CowieTo say this record has been a long time coming would be an understatement. Saukrates has been an influential and continually relevant fixture in Canadian hip-hop since he first emerged back in 1994, yet Season One is only his second full-length album, following 1999's The Underground Tapes. In the intervening time, the classically trained artist has gradually evolved, showing off his virtuosity and versatility as an MC, singer and producer, whether on his intermittently issued solo tracks or countless collaborations. Consequently, Season One could have either been an album to comfortably hew to his revered past or move forward in a new direction. As the title suggests, the latter approach shades the former, but anyone who's paid cursory attention to Saukrates' music in recent years would have noticed elements of the musical direction outlined here. The melodic approach that sometimes courts popular trends may raise the eyebrows of long-time fans, but there's also material that adheres to Saukrates' established eclectic nature. "Lost" could have been on his 2006 collaborative Big Black Lincoln project, Heaven's Caught on Fire, and "Tomorrow" intuitively expands his sound. Intricately woven and surprisingly vulnerable rhymes about love and life abound. "Doorite," featuring a sterling cameo from K-OS, is one of the standouts, honestly laying faults and foibles bare over a haunting choral backdrop and bluesy keys. The forthright lyricism continues on "Sometimes," which deals unflinchingly with the subject matter of alcohol and pill addiction. Consequently, the inclusion of "On the Run" (aka "I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman," with K-OS) attracts more attention to the song's deceptively introspective bent, a mood that underlies Season One, if you look closely enough.
Read an interview with Saukrates here. (Frostbyte/eOne)