Azeem Craft Classic

A remarkable hip-hop album that embraces a variety of techniques and styles: from humour to political savvy to religious reverence to battle rhymes to rhythmic storytelling, this album has it all. First up, the samples are sharp and the lyrical skills flow like running water, threatening to drown the listener in sheer verbosity, yet are done in a mind-bendingly artful way. Every track is awesome, and among the best is "No Lexus," a hilarious track that jibes fun at anybody who can't afford one. "Thunderground" and "Anti-Azeem" are battle rhymes that induce vertigo just by listening to the sheer onslaught of words, which tower to dizzying heights. "Moorish Allegiance" and "God's Rolex" are highly-skilled jewels of rhythmic expressions and spiritual reverence. Then there are hilarious politically-informed swipes at U.S. foreign policy, such as "Bush is a Gangsta." While "Northern Lights" is a storytelling rhyme worthy of the Twilight Zone. Craft Classic exemplifies expert skill, humour, savvy and smooth samples; this album has it all. Hip-hop of the first order, Azeem is on point. (Stray)