Myka 9 and Factor Sovereign Soul

A pioneering legend of the L.A. underground, Freestyle Fellowship's Myka 9 spends much of Sovereign Soul chopping, often at rapid speeds, but he also readily flips his flow to sing for a few bars or on many of the hooks. His delivery is tight and his lyrics well enunciated, as would be expected of a 20-year vet, but his mostly positive, personal lyrics can take a few plays to fully absorb. Good thing the jazzy, soulful production of Canada's Factor makes repeat plays easy, with his beats bordering on an accessible pop sound that's also intricate and quirky. Sovereign Soul begins with a one-two punch that pulls the listener in. The title track is a groovy, guitar-driven headnodder over which a styling Myka 9 declares his passion for hip-hop and following track "You Are Free" is a fast-paced dance number that gives Myka plenty of opportunity to impress with his fast and furious flow. Also impressive, especially as a concept, is the combination of a play on The Source's rating system and a bunch of rappers with variations on the name Mike for posse cut "5 Mikes." Along with Open Mike Eagle, Mykill Miers, iCON the Mic King and Myk Manson, Sovereign Soul also features appearances by Abstract Rude, Ceschi, Erule and more, and each is truly a great addition to the project. While Myka and Factor demonstrated their chemistry three years ago on previous collaboration 1969, Sovereign Soul distills that connection into an even better release. Let's hope they try for a trilogy, at the very least. (Fake Four Inc.)