John Book, Music For America
A very vibrant album, and a major contender for one of the best rap albums of th
Before I even get into reviewing this, I just have to say this now upfront. IPL's The Catalyst (Tegrity Music) is easily one of the best rap albums I've heard this year. Of course, you all need reasons. I'll explain.
First off, the sound and the groove of the music is how rap music should be done, an emphasis on creating well-crafted tracks for beautifully executed lyrics with structure. To add to this, The Catalyst is a concept album of sorts with four distinct movements, each one explored with a number of parts. Together they create a distinct picture of what is trying to be said. If the songs are meant to be the catalyst, it is up to the listener to figure out what the chemical reaction will be, for it is they who are the (or an) essential component.
Again, the album is divided into four sections. The first is the introduction, or called Opening, where the group
(Incarnate on the mic and Primus Luta as DJ and producer) go back to the origins of rap music, or really the origins of dialogue between African slaves who were packed into wooden boats and turned into slave labor just because someone felt anyone with darker skin was inferior. The "Oral Tradition" is about speaking out loud about what was going on, a bulletin board for those captured. "Flow" is how a language and culture would be strenghtened, and in turn become something else in the new world. The first part ends with "Identity Crisis", which taps not only into what Africans had lost when they arrived in the new world, but also looks into what has been done in the last 100 years to people who are uncertain of who they are anymore. Incarnate raps in a number of different ways over a few different styles, these guys could easily do it safe but they aren't about being safe. The discussion of "babylon being crushed" leads the group to the second movement.
Hip-Hop: Whore Of Babylon takes a look at how much rap music has changed, from the days when everyone was about skills, to where everyone now shoots to kill. Incarnate, the master of concepts, then gets into how one has to show and prove by saying get your crew, they sound like you, you're sick/a bunch of pussies can only make one big dick/I don't care who gave you a contract, I'mma expose the fact that you wack. In "Rap Mogul" he points the finger at those on the top who makes the decisions on the kind of music that gets released to the masses, and how those promotional methods are almost enforced. In a way, it is perhaps saying that parents are allowing pop culture to be the babysitter of their children, but with a lot of confusing messages a child cannot comprehend its intent, only to take them literally and believe that the world is ass, weed, and suffocating in a nightclub. Which leads to part three.
Family: Root + Branch takes a look at not only unity within the hip-hop community, but also asks for strength in the bonds at home. Sometimes both aspects intermingle with each other through metaphor, but the overall message is that without family and knowledge of the roots, it's nothing but deadweight.
Which leads us to the conclusion with Reniasolution: Now. Incarnate says that in order for things to get better, one has to go back to a time when everything was good, to revive that and bring it back to the present day, for it is possible that the music, and the community which holds on to those traditions, may have lost something along the way. Its innocence, it's power, its wholesomeness, its identity.
The Catalyst is a very heavy album that may not be for those who only want to groove and dance, although it does those things. This is an album meant to be listened to. When Incarnate rhymes, you can't help but listen to this guy who comes off as one of those monks who may not have complete knowledge of every single thing on the planet, but what he know will surely result in wisdom. The musical wisdom lies in the hands of Primus Luta, whose beats are as diverse and colorful as the community of people and characters that are a part of the music many people have a fondness for. When he wants, he gets gritty and dirty DJ Premier style, other times he may move on to various forms of electronica forms in order to show the steady stream of consciousness rap music production has had in the last 20 years. It is a solid effort that should be an example of how to record a great album in a time when people say the music is six feet under. If it's dead, IPL are the modern-day gravediggers.