Toolshed Illustrated

Toolshed have nailed it with Illustrated. Timbuktu’s beats are fun, mid-’90s-influenced productions with plenty of attention given to the details; the beats are never boring. Plus it doesn’t hurt to have live drums, bass, guitar and Arp Solis mixed into some songs, maintaining a feeling of constant momentum and change. Hearing the beat for "Crawl Space” bring out the best in guest rappers Awol One, Bishop, Sleep and Thesis adds further credibility to Timbuktu’s production skills. And after four albums and plenty of live performances, Toolshed is as tight a trio as you’d expect. Timbuktu, Choke and Psyborg have had plenty of time to acquaint themselves with Timbuktu’s beats and come off completely natural on everything he throws down. But where Toolshed truly excel are as storytellers, whether they’re talking about the complicated life of a simple man or the daydream worlds of imagination. On back-to-back tracks "All Opposed” and "Flash Forward” they tell how society has come to be where it is now and where we’re bound to go next, while "Dream Smashers” keeps things simpler with a look at the sometimes annoying, often alcoholic life of living at the Toolshed. Illustrated is one more reason to be proud of Canadian hip-hop. (Independent)