Sankofa The Rosetta Stone

Sankofa is one of the rare internet MCs that successfully made the transition from virtual to real world. He’s worked on a couple of previous projects, foremost amongst them is the conceptual White Collar Criminals, but The Rosetta Stone is his debut solo album. Sankofa’s gruff, distinct, and often monotone voice helps him to stand out from the flood of rappers in the hip-hop community. This is especially important since Sankofa, like many underground rappers following in the wake of Anticon, rhymes about personal issues and the lack of creativity in hip-hop with his feet firmly planted in the old school. "I refuse to live in a limited world,” he raps on "4th Wall.” This comes out most in his choice of beats: "RDB,” the most touching dedication to a deceased parent since Buck 65’s song about his mother, goes for a smooth, up-tempo groove rather than the typical melodrama; "Asphyxia” is filled with eerie paranoia that surely influenced the lyrics; and "Blue Sunshine” is a slow, creepy production with cheesy ’80s synth that works. Jon?Doe’s apearance on the latter song is also welcome. The rest of the tracks are more straightforward, with individual ups and downs, but highlights include the guitar-rocking "Deep Fried,” the summer-groove of "Rockfish,” and the piano-heavy bump of "45 Notches.” The Rosetta Stone succeeds even if much of it’s been done before. (Beyond Space)