TwoReview: Here's a concept I've been toying with for a while, I suppose it continues in the traditional of Siskel & Ebert or back in the day Rappages had their review column with two voiced opinions and ideas. I had gave the Gensu Dean to Scott Kebo to check out before I left to SXSW. On my trip there I had a chance to listen to it again in some headphones, plus ran into the man himself out there, so this seemed like a perfect launching pad.
THOUGHTS & WORDS BY SCOTT KEBO:
Being surrounded by heavy drug abusing fiends one is likely to try a substance they have never been in contact with before in one form or another. We are all impressionable, an accumulation of everything we directly and indirectly encounter until we depart form this world. Previous experiences and our nature influence who we are in the present; I digress. Now back to making the connection to the opening line. The same can be said surrounded by music junkies, shout outs to Kevin Beacham. I had never been too familiar before with The Grand Imperial aka Gensu Dean utilizing the SP-1200 to produce gritty, rugged, hammer-on-your-waist-early 90's-New York styled-boom bap tracks found on the 'Lo-Fi Fingahz' via Mello Music Group.
Never been big on cosigns, but some are hard to ignore leading up to Gensu's debut release from the likes of DJ Premier and Run of Run DMC. What you'll find here on this cohesive project are appearances by David Banner, Large Professor, Roc Marciano, Brand Nubian and more.
This is a new release, but embodies the "pure essence" of the culture, if you will, something to build your foundation of hip hop around especially if you're coming of age has been linked to what's currently playing on the radio or on 106th and Park. With that being said you won't find any of these records getting rotation on the mainstream any time soon, but this is something the backpackers will have a field day with.
Favorite joints include the aggressive, street philosophy flavored "In My Head" by Brand Nubian, Roc Marciano's solo contribution "Yen" and "Alice in Wonderland" by David Banner. The suggested setting to bump this album in is riding around the city deep in an Expedition, windows rolled down slightly to let the smoke linger out from inside the vehicle.
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/15-In-My-Head-featuring-Brand-Nubian.mp3|titles=15 In My Head featuring Brand Nubian]
WORDS & THOUGHTS BY KEVIN BEACHAM:
January of last year I stumbled across Gensu Dean's "Forever" track featuring Large Professor. It initially struck my attention and then easily held it for the next 3+ minutes. The beat had a slight hypnotic effect that resonated with with pure Hip Hop traditionalism, but without sounding the least bit dated, refreshingly familiar would be perfectly accurate. I couldn't also help, but notice that >Large Professor was in rare form as a lyricist, making this one of the best Large Professor songs I've heard in recent times. It's no stretch to assume that the beat help inspire that. There's something to be said about a producer of Large Pro's caliber shouting at the production prowess of Gensu Dean on the lyrics, chorus and outro dialog...that's clear respect for Gensu's craft, coming from a man possessing a vast amount of similar respect in his own right. Upon hearing this track, my immediate reaction was to reach out to Gensu Dean to connect and support his movement. I made contact via Facebook and a few weeks later I was banging some "Lo Fi Finghaz" album snippets at home and fantasizing about a complete album...
That day finally came a few weeks ago and had no problem satisfying the high standard I had pre-set for the project in mind a little over a year ago. I got a chance to connect with Gensu Dean at SXSW (as well as his people's Oddisee and Apollo Brown) and we built a little about his past, present and future. Those paying attention might have seen his name start popping up in the early 00s with production credits for Lord Jamar, Sadat X, Truth Universal, and No Particulars (out of Mississippi). However, a careful eye might have noticed his break in the industry in the mid 90s working with David Banner's early label signing opportunity with his group, Crooked Lettaz. Gensu Dean produced two tracks on that 1996 album; "Caught In The Game" and "Grey Skies". That lead to a discussion about our common connection with Andy C*.
Point being, Gensu Dean has long been building a similar legacy with his mastery of the classic SP-1200 Sampler. For his debut album he has assembled an impressive collection and balance of established and upcoming MCs. One thing that immediate stood out was that the MCs involved gave "Lo Fi Fingahz" quality work. Often these types of projects look great in print with all the names, but fail to deliver the quality, 100% NOT the case here. There are top notch offerings from Prince Po (Organized Konfusion), Sputnik Brown, Count Bass D, Head Krack and the all the other previous mentioned names. Among my favorites is Count Bass D's "City Limits" which produces one of the most compelling arguments for Hip Hop styled beat-making to date.
However, don't make the mistake of getting lost only in the easy recognizable names here, some definite stand out tracks come from vocalists who I wasn't completely or only marginally familiar with, but upon one listen to them here and I'm determined to seek out more music from the likes of 7evenThirty, Melatone, Ikwon, and singer Miss A.
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/03-There-You-Have-it-featuring-7evenThirty.mp3|titles=03 There You Have it featuring 7evenThirty]
Gensu Dean also dropped a few jewels on me about some upcoming production credits, his new album and other things he is hard at work on. There's no question he has a steady stream of quality music in the making and it all starts with the Fingahz on the Lo-Fi monster that is the SP-1200...
Oh yeah, Gensu Dean also told me to look out for a new music video this week....Stay tuned!
*Andy C is another producer on the Crooked Lettaz album. Andy C is a Chicago production Legend, who name doesn't get mentioned nearly enough, but his impact, influence and track record is indisputable.
**Gensu Dean and I spoke about coming from that era where a release isn't official a release until it is on vinyl, so we are happy to have it available now on Double LP on beautiful white and blue swirl vinyl!! We also have a few copies of the very limited edition 7" with Large Professor. It's not final till it's vinyl....