Wordsmith Classic Material/Rockstrumentals

Forgetting (or ignoring) Cypress Hill’s 2000 release Skull and Bones, Baltimore, MD, rapper Wordsmith claims that his double-CD debut, with one disc of hip-hop (Classic Material) and one disc of rock-influenced rap (Rockstrumentals), has never been done before. Sure, he may be mistaken in that regard, but that is not reason enough to write him off. In fact, Wordsmith demonstrates skills throughout over a variety of different beats, although mostly grimy. Classic Material is a throwback to the Golden Age of hip-hop and is heavy on lyricism and storytelling. Unfortunately, most of the songs on Classical Material just don’t stand out from any of the numerous indie releases currently clogging the hip-hop market. Exceptions to that rule are "Unplugged,” a smooth jazz track that probably sounds great with a live band on stage, and "The Legend of the Hitman,” a superb, Wild West-influenced tale. Rockstrumentals is the better of the two discs. Compared to something like Necro’s recent The Pre-Fix for Death, Rockstrumentals is barely rock. Professa’s productions are pretty much tough hip-hop beats and guitar riffs that vary in their dominance from track to track, with songs like "Rampage” and "Channel Live” drenched in guitars and a near absence on "Rocksteady” and "Vicious.” Still, the beats are more of a risk on this one, and Wordsmith works better with the harder sound. Two CDs worth of material may be a bit much to digest for a debut, but Wordsmith proves that he’s worth keeping an eye on. (Wordwise)