Earatik Statik Feelin' Earatik

Recognising the importance of first impressions, it’s probably not the best idea to begin your debut record by chanting mindless profanity before you’ve taken the time to prove you’ve got more to offer — especially when you do. The premiere album by Chi-town’s Earatik Statik is a confused mixture of poignant street poetry and thoughtful observations with clichéd thuggery and laboured braggadocio. Oddly, the album is sequenced in such a way that the microphone skills of this three-man team appear to progress as the record does, so that tired straight gun-talk jabs become witty left and right hooks by the mid-point. Sharing the mic time on Feelin’ Earatik are a litany of emcee heavyweights, including Kool Keith, Akrobatik, Pacewon, Edo.G and K-Solo, who returns from parts unknown to prove that’s he’s still got one or two verses left in him. Production on the album, though split between nearly ten different producers (including Diamond D), is surprisingly cohesive, characterised by a sense of drama and urgency found on tracks like "Smile” and "Getta Grip,” with their layered strings and rustling background sounds indicative of the records as a whole. A lone spoken word piece about inner city hope at the album’s half-way mark, and the stark lyricism of "Evil Is Timeless,” offer the impression that there might be something more to Earatik than the simple gat references, which the crew chooses to fall back on all too frequently on their erratic first outing. That might just be reason enough for a repeat listen. (Gravel)