As I mentally revisit the previous two Typical Cats albums and merge those thoughts with the new album, one of the first things that come to mind is a particular quality each album has; they are all essentially timeless. Most of their material maintains the elements of forward-thinking lyricists who are pushing the envelope towards the future while rhyming atop musical foundations that pull heavy influence from the essence of the 90s. Additionally, both ends also simultaneously reach in the opposite direction; the MCs all reveal their dedication to history of the art form via scatted lyrics through out the albums. Also, the production, while it echoes some 90s sentiments, is also so rooted in DJ Natural’s distinct style that referring it to simply as throwback would be grossly inaccurate.
Another radiant quality is how the MCs are nearly as similar as they are different. Each of their voices is easily distinguishable from one another and unique in their own right. As writers, they all build from a poetic base, but manifest their lyrics differently. In general, Qwazaar is brutally poetic, Qwel is witty-ly poetic, and Denizen Kane is sentimentally poetic. Yet, each MC touches on variations of those characteristics and more, but those descriptions mark what is a reoccurring approach in their expansive style bags.
As a result, among the album’s most powerful moments are when all 3 MCs are in collaboration on a track together. “The Crown” is an up-tempo break-beat styled banger that the B-Boys/Girls should appreciate. “On My Square” is sonically busy and purposefully chaotic to match the rowdy live show element invoked in the chorus. Both “Puzzling Thing” and “Mathematics” have relaxing jazzy frameworks that allows the intensity of the subject matter to be absorbed effectively, rather than beating you in the head.
Qwazaar has two solo cuts on “3”. Musically, “Better Luck” is a well-balanced combo of rough and calming as Qwazaar once again proves he’s one of the best natural Rappers of this era. His flow and delivery are immaculate, best witnessed in the last couple bars of the first verse. His vocal inflections are targeted and able to perfectly accent each word at will, very few MCs possess his precision. On his other solo outing, “Reflections From The Porch”, Qwazaar reminisces the trials and tribulations of the artist life.
“Denizen Walks Away” has a ballroom music feel with heavy pianos and heavy hi-hats and Denizen explores his spoken word background. It’s the best display of his poetic nature, as he blends abstract visual imagery while exhibiting a pensive demeanor.
“My Watch” is one of two Qwel solo tracks and finds him flaunting his playful battle rhyme style that he dabbles with from time to time. It successful blends high-brow sarcasm and low blow punchlines with a seamless flow, “Critics quick to get it, spitting “Who is it?!/Can’t exist in my position, like “Damn you physics!” Ultimately, “3” still finds Qwel able to effortlessly tap into a limitless supply of imaginative rhyme patterns and cadences. This is most evident on ‘The Crown”, “The Gordeon Knock” and his other solo effort, “The Bitter Cold”.
Overall, the album has a great feel good vibe and transitions from one track to the next without disrupting the vibe or listening enjoyment. The only thing that I found myself pondering was noting that some songs where one of the group lyricists was missing sounded like an ideal song for their signature style. For example, the intensity of “Gil Say They Don’t Knock” is screaming for a Qwazaar verse. Meanwhile, Qwazaar’s “Reflections From The Porch” seems a perfect fit for a Denizen Kane sung hook.
We are in a time and day were labels are diminishing and artists are getting focusing inward on their own careers or seeking to align themselves with new trending artists. With that in mind, it’s refreshing to see Typical Cats still reform and deliver an album that is a pure evolution of their own sound, without relying on pooling soundscapes or styles from current "hot" artists to hijack their sound or incorporate desperate guest appearances. Per usual, the only thing “Typical” about their third album, “3”, is the crew’s dedication to being themselves and excelling at that. Of course, it helps that each of their natural states are immersed in a passion for their craft.
Written By Kevin Beacham