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Underrated emcees; there are a lot of them out there, but one of the most underrated emcees that I know of is Rahlo. Who is Rahlo, you ask? He is the blackSoil project. He became known in most people's eyes through his appearance on the Mars ILL classic Raw Material , but since that time people seem to have forgotten about him. Since appearing on Raw Material , he became a part of the ReServed Records camp and released his Ulterior Motive EP . This EP was an underground hit and received high acclaim from both the secular and Christian markets; but, at the same time, the album appeared to go unnoticed. Now, it's 2004 and Rahlo is back, teaming up with DJ Level, to release his first full length album The Calm Before the Storm.

So, what's this CD all about? The Calm Before the Storm is a collection of songs that focus on some of the elements of real life and the way we choose to live it. Every song on this album is a deep look into the life of Rahlo and speaks a strong message of life and true freedom. "It Ain't the Shadow"” is a perfect example of a track in which we get a deep introspective glimpse at Rahlo. The recent birth of his son is what prompts him to write this song as he takes a long hard look at himself and the person that he has become, the shadows that he's hidden, and discovering what it all means. He even goes as far as to question what he should pass on to his newborn son through his life. This song perfectly expresses the love of a true father, and the concerns that he has about being that figure in his family. "Ebb and Flow"” is another deep track over which he laments & takes a look back at his time with his deceased father; there are a lot of strong thoughts in this song and make you appreciate your time with your loved ones.

"With “What We Do",” Rahlo speaks on how powerful the use of words are in our lives and how the use of them shape everything around us, including our relationships. People use words without really thinking a lot of times; but, here, he calls us to action to concentrate on the messages that we're trying to communicate to others. Pretty much staying along the same lines, "“L.O.S.T."” (the law of space and time) expresses concern about how artists claim to know and understand the power that their words hold, but fail to use those words they speak benefit humanity. This is a charge to all artists to let them know that their words to indeed affect people.

Even with these deeply conscious tracks, this album still expresses a lot of fun, even in the midst of expressing social concerns. There are quite a few remixes on this album from tracks that were on the Ulterior Motive EP . I wasn't expecting these tracks, but the manner in which they were redone was done in good taste because I enjoyed all of them. The remixes give a glimpse back to his previous work and continue to speak on issues that needed to be revisited. Also on this album, there are a few instrumentals. My favorite instrumental is "“Ranzaa”" which has a very heavy comic book & cartoon feel to it. On these tracks DJ Level rip it up and show us that he's got skills.

To sum things up, I don't think this album is for everyone. Yes, it's a fun album, but at the same time, it's very dark and introspective. This is the kind of album which requires a mature individual with an open mind to grasp everything that is contained in this album. There are a lot of messages to take hold of, and you almost feel exhausted, yet rejuvenated, after listening to this album. With that being said, this is a very solid album with no visible flaws. Like always, Rahlo puts his best foot forward and releases quality material. If you can handle this album, it's worth picking up.

Release Date: July 29, 2004

Label: ReServed Records

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Tracklisting
1. Vision
2. L.O.S.T.
3. What we do
4. It ain’t the shadow
5. OnanOn (emo mix)
6. Tuvoc
7. Ranzaa (instrumental mix)
8. Universal blackness
9. Ebb an flow
10. The revisitation (psalm 23)
11. Good citizens
12. New world order (knucklehedz mix)
13. Evening

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