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The Perceptionists
Black Dialogue
by: Sun-J

Often referred to as the heartbeat of Boston's underground hip hop scene (Guru isn't very underground these days), Mr. Lif and Akrobatik once again find themselves in the same corner. Combining with scratch master (and acclaimed producer), DJ Fakts, the trio has formed a politically conscious alliance in order to push the moral blanket stuck in between the commercial covers of hip hop. Lif has always been a political cat. THe knowledge he dropped on I, Phantom is nothing short of formidable proof to the statement. The man can virtually rhyme any two syllables with the flip of his tongue. Akrobatik, with the lesser known Balance was more of a juggernaut emcee. His style was raw and edgy, and ironically, Balance could just have well been a righteous title for their Black Dialogue LP. Their flows compliment each other, and at times on the album, we find Akrobatik and Lif speaking on topics not normally spoken on by themselves. If your ears caught wind of their New England Patriots anthem you would understand the reality, ESPN sure did. The versatility is abundant throughout the album. From concept-driven tracks, to culturally aware songs, Lif and Akrobatik juggle tracks with confidence and bravado.

"...Let me see some heads nodding, fists pumping, feet stomping, ass shaking, necks breaking, earth quaking. Letís move!, f*** a battle, we got nothing to prove. Letís move..." Akrobatik couldn't have a more perfect chorus for an opening track to this album. Right from the get go, Akrobatik sets a proper foundation. The song, "Let's Move" is an adrenaline filled number spewing with energy. In addition to Akrobatik's anthem chorus, producer Fakts provides a beat to perfectly supplement Mr. Lif's vocal tones. The El-P produced, "People 4 Prez" is an odd follow to the previous amplifying track because the song lacks a chorus. Of course it is pertinent for listeners to dwell on the lyrics, however the position of this song on the LP is questionable. In the end, the track in itself is a solid production. If you don't find it interesting at first, I suggest skipping the track and coming back to it after a full listen of the rest of the CD. The song is almost as eccentric as "Cats Vans Bags" was to Atmosphere's Seven's Travels. The next cut, "Blo" is also produced by El-P and maintains the futuristic sounds the Def Jux CEO is relished for. "Memorial Day" touches upon the current situation in Iraq and features a chorus which powerfully drives the thesis of Lif's and Akrobatik's verses; "Where are the weapons of mass destruction? We've been looking for months and we ainít found nothing. Please Mr. President tell us something, We knew from the beginning that your ass was fronting." "Love Letters" presents to us a poignant style as producer Willie Evans Jr. manipulates the drums and sample to create a romantic backdrop to Akrobatik and Mr. Lif's flow. The title track slams down corporate crap (err, I mean rap.) and its cult worship. The track is unique and that it touches upon how 'black' has become a marketable phenomenon / ploy which empowers commercial structure, yet simultaneously doing very little for the black community. The cut is an educational and blunt display of cultural pride. On "Frame Rupture," El-P ingeniously infuses an Erick Sermon vocal sample into the hook along with wild horns and electronic rhythms. The hard melody, and thick, electronic handclaps of "Party Hard" (featuring Guru and Camu Tao) help to provide an alternate to the typical party track. The song may seem a bit off topic, yet the colorful topic adds diversity to the album. "Career Finders" features Humpty Hump in addition to its old school bass line. The light hearted feel of the track, also adds to the validity of the previous song, "Party Hard" captures freedom felt after a long, hard day of work while the final song, "Breath In The Sun," provides a quasi-juxtaposition to the working-class trend of the album, as Akrobatik goes on a vacation in the first verse.

It is important for listeners to not write off songs like "What Have We Got To Lose?!?" and "Black Dialogue" as anti-Bush tracks. Looking at the complete picture, Akrobatik and Lif seem to be attacking every facet they feel is wrong about the country rather than singling out the president. The album is reminiscent of early Rakim and Public Enemy, and is not dominated solely by lyrical prowess. The Perceptionists recruited many underrated producers to form a sonically sublime record. This album is a definite must for the underground hip hop fanatic, or politically aware enthusiast.


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