Factor Episode Mode Seven

A.F.T.E.R.H.O.U.R.S. Research has been playing it low key since they released their debut twelve-inch in 2000. Rapper J-Ras has been building his label, Gro-Op, and putting in a few vocal appearances here and there. Factor has Episode Mode Seven, his debut album. The majority of the production here is supplied by Factor with a mix of either soft drum programming with too much synthetic keyboard or hard drums, bass and smart sample selections. Check the difference between "Momentum” and "Artisan.” Unfortunately, there’s too much of the former and not enough of the latter, even if some of the extremely synthetic beats are damn catchy. And I can’t get enough of "Rap Tactics.” Double Dragon supplies three of the beats and helps out with two others. "Crack Da Vault” comes off corny, but Double Dragon redeems himself with the organs and piano of "Episode Mode Seven” and the hyperkinetic collection of strings that is "Upper Elevation.” Stace Prints also helps out on two beats, co-producing the drum-heavy "Trails We Blaze,” one of the album’s best tracks thanks to the hard production and Stace’s guest vocals. Prevail, of Swollen Members, and Ashes also lend vocals, but the rest is held down by Factor, who definitely has skills on the mic. If only the beats were more consistent. (Facbrandaudio)