CD Escape 2 Mars [PA] [Digipak] (CD 6244158),
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Escape 2 Mars [PA] [Digipak]
Gift of Gab
2. El Gifto Magnifico
4. Dreamin' - (featuring Del tha Funkee Homosapien/Brother Ali)
5. In Las Vegas
6. Escape 2 Mars
7. Electric Waterfalls
8. Richman, Poorman
9. Some of the People
11. Rhyme Travel
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): CRAS-CD-069
Personnel: Joyo Velarde, Bart Davenport (vocals).
Recording information: D.B. Soundscape Studio aka The Blap Lab; The Brown House.
Gift of Gab, the verbally adept (as his name rightfully implies) MC and one half of the seminal indie hip-hop group Blackalicious, has certainly been busy since the last Blackalicious album, The Craft, came out in 2005. It's been more than a while, though, since he's sounded as quick and witty and fun as he did on either of his group's first two albums (2002's Blazing Arrow and 2000's phenomenal Nia). Gab's 2005 solo debut felt unfocused and spacy, his mixtapes not much better, and while his work as part of the Mighty Underdogs (with fellow Quammie Lateef and Crown City Rockers producer Headnodic) had moments that reaffirmed why he's been such a lauded rapper, it didn't quite connect the way his earlier efforts did. Thankfully, Gab seems to have found himself again on Escape 2 Mars, his second official full-length. Much of this is due to the production (by DNAE BEATS and Headnodic), which is full and melodic and very, dare it be said, Chief Xcel-esque. Though the record has the initial trappings of a concept album gone awry (humans have destroyed Earth, and therefore have to move to Mars), the MC mercifully keeps these ideas to just a couple of songs, both of which are good: the eerie "Electric Waterfalls" (which features vocals from Joyo Velarde and Lateef), and the title track, which has a vocal bit seemingly taken from the 2006 Stern Review and finds Gab bringing eighth notes in to his preferred triplets, and rhyming, rather adeptly "Two zero one two party over oops/out of sight, time, mind, illuminati deathtrap/blind, deaf and dumb, crazy bent eighty percent/wiped out, sniped out, burn, baby, burn get/hit when we coulda been turning the cell phones off...," a kind of reprise to Blazing Arrow's "Sky Is Falling," that somehow, given contemporary circumstances, feels much more menacing and real. Themes may be revisited ("Richman, Poorman" is reminiscent of "Deception," "El Gifto" is a quirky boast on his skills, kind of like "A to G," but without the alliteration), but Escape 2 Mars stills comes across as fresh and meaningful and fun. The excellent verses from fellow underground heroes Del and Brother Ali on "Dreamin'" help this, of course, but the album is a success because Gab himself come across as confident and focused. He knows what he wants to say and how to say it, and doesn't beat around the bush. That is to say, it's exactly what you would want from him: all meat and wit and amazingly nimble rhymes, no filler. And that, if nothing else, is something to celebrate. ~ Marisa Brown
Spin (p.75) - "GAB fashions inspired stories out of loquacious speed-raps, ruminating over humanity's foibles....Impressively empathetic."
CMJ - "Lyrically and sonically, Gift Of Gab retains the same timbre and flow that we know so well from the three Blackalicious full-lengths..."
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