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Album Review: Commoners & Kings’ Finally

Commoners & Kings’s Finally

Spoken word is a lost art in hip hop culture. We hear bits and pieces of it on the occasional album; the “Intro” track on Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor or even Lauryn’s beautiful display on the “Mystery of Inequity.” Spoken word can be ten times more vivid, descriptive, enlightening, and disturbing than rapped lyrics are, but it does not have the rhythm, flow, and ability to move a crowd like rapping does. Hip hop is about poetry being recited whether in rhythmic manner or spoken. My colleague, Kevin, then sent me an album of a few dudes who walk this fine line and blend the best of both worlds on one album: Commoners & Kings.

Jragon Fly Jon, Jason O’Neil, Anthony Sims and Marcus Robinson make up the Long Beach quartet and they all contribute something to the album, Finally. The album seems to be 50/50 in terms of rapping and spoken word, but lyrically it is consistent and production from series of producers is for the most part on point.

“Brave New World” uses the very haunting Tears For Fears sample of “Mad World” in a very effective way and displays some of the most impressive spoken word on the album: “Regress back to a brave new world because you know what/ we don’t even eat food/ we gigabyte consume information until we can move.” This shit is not only spine-tingling; it made me feel guilty for spending the entire day on my laptop: “get high on electric circuits/ circus dance around waste time do nothing with your substance.” After listening to this song continuously, I finally decided to move on and will NEVER look at my notebooks/pencils/postal service the same way again.

To switch gears, “For the Love” is certainly a track for the traditional hip hop heads. DJ Zero One provides one hell of a banger with DJ Premier-esque strings and a very unique touch that allows Jragon Fly to run beautifully on this joint. “Listen to the Woman” is a solo acoustic joint by Jason O’Neil telling a great story of a man’s significant other. It is most certainly something you will not hear on the radio, it acts as a piece of theatre with a beginning, middle, and end. “Why Do I Do It” sounds like something out of the Justus League camp, however, the production seems to dominate the MC’s on this which is unfortunate. It leads into the “Interlude (King In Me)” which once again displays great production from DJ Zero One and a tease of rapping from the guys.

The album is hit and miss, especially for those who are not specifically experienced with spoken word. “Good and Faithful Servant” angers me because Anthony Sims could easily rap on this, but instead takes the spoken word route. This leads to a joint that seems to have terrible timing and horrible flow. The very average beat then goes on for another two minutes for a purpose I could be too stupid to find. “Conversations” suffers from the same problem, instead, it’s a beautiful piano beat that aches to be rapped on. Lyrically it is fine, the story is fine, but the rhythm ruins what could be a great track.

The biggest problem on Finally is the lack of rhythm and flow. The biggest thing for an up and coming artist, group, or act is to find an identity. While there are some tremendous tracks in here that will certainly touch the listener, the overall intake of the album is difficult to endure. The replay value is extremely low, and while these guys are great poets, I’d love to see everyone bring that emotion, passion, intensity and focus on one route or at least have a better execution of what really is a complex plot. There is no chemistry with the production and spoken word pieces, so you have these beautifully crafted lyrics and stories just inserted on this backdrop beat that serves no purpose. Unfortunately, the three standout tracks are not enough positive to outweigh the negative, but with a few tweaks here and there C&K could be a needed element for hip hop.

Standout tracks: “Brave New World”, “For The Love”, “Why Do I Do It”

Brave New World

For The Love

Why Do I Do It

Overall rating: 65/100

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About Sean Deez

  • A.Sims

    Yo’ deez thanks for the review.. I had to comment on my product and your review.. I appreciate the honest critiques and for the most part I personally agree with most of your observations.. I think you were really objective.. Thanks brah.. Yo what are some of your favorite albums/artist?

  • Deez

    Wow, I was fully expecting tons of hate.
    Note that I think you guys are some of the best lyrical material I’ve heard and I think that more rappers need to have the lyrical talent all 3 of the guys have.

    Translate that lyrical talent to being much more than about the lyrics. Its hard to say that you guys have a ‘swagger’. Even if its a ‘conscious swagger’, Mc’s like Common and Talib certainly have it, or a political swagger like Chuck D, Paris, Immortal Technique have.

    Krs One, Nas, Native Tongues, BCC, Juice Crew, Outkast, Justus League are all groups/artist I dig on the daily

    *check out my man Remot in the producers spotlight here

  • a. sims

    Even though I said Deez was objective. He is from a hip hop stand point. We are a spoken word/hip hop crew unlike Tha Breax for example who are a Hip hop/spoken word crew.. There is a difference..

  • Praverb

    The last two tracks are flames…Dj Zero One is a dope beatmaker. I am also an emcee that combines both poetry and hip hop and it was delightful to see that Sean reviewed the album. I enjoy both spectrums as they both provide ultimate expression via spoken or with a beat, continue to craft great expressions and I will be a listener.

    peace and blessings,

  • Rusty Simmons

    I’ve peeped the album. The joint is fresh. I always take into consideration how much the artist charge for their work. I got it for $10. In a generation where Lil Wayne is considered the “greatest rapper alive”, these kats are a giant leap above that and well worth the ten bills.

    Grace and peace.

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