Casual listeners should be forgiven for not being able to distinguish between the new Scribbling Idiots and deepspace5 records.
After all, they’re both from supergroups with rosters of talented (and sometimes solo) MCs and producers. They offer a similar “underground” sound that focuses on verbal dexterity, punchlines, and an everyman ethos not found on commercial radio. Heck, both joints were even released from the same indie label, Illect, within weeks of each other to the web-resident gospel hip hop fanbase.
However, multiple spins of each album will eventually develop a discerning palette and demonstrate that, while both teams are capable of winning a championship, one is made up of a mix of elite and role players and the other is packed with All-Stars.
The Have Nots from the Scribbling Idiots utilizes a committee approach to production with jazzy looped beats from its members and associates. Here, everyone from Theory Hazit to Re:Flex to JustMe get liner note credit for their contributions. Often samples are chopped and reconfigured to emphasize or expound upon a hook. Their familiarity is sure to bring a smile to many who will find it irresistible to sing along.
And fans of last year’s Extra Credit will be happy to hear Hazit rip it on the boards and in the booth again. His bars are the best on every track he joins on The Have Nots. (Peep “Start Livin” and “ESeye” for stellar examples.)
As far as subject matter is concerned, the Idiots stay in their lane. They’re Christians and their discussion topics and vocabulary show their faith, but they aren’t trying to make seminary songs. Instead, you’ll get tracks about fidelity to man, woman, and God or uplifting and motivating anthems that encourage action over apathy.
In contrast, deepspace5oul, by the crew named in the title, is anchored by Beat Rabbi’s listener-friendly launch pads throughout the entire project. The common thread unites vocal variances due to geography (members hail from NY, Dallas, Arkansas, and Atlanta) and each piece reinforces the “soul” theme.
Rabbi’s production here is really superb. Known to be crate digger, on this project he’s mined tasty vinyl samples and layered them with near perfect complimentary sounds to create an earthy, organic feel.
Throughout the record he showcases different sides of soul with instrumental pieces like “Soul in the Horn” and the Asian-inspired “Deepspace Seoul.” Not that there was ever really a debate, but with deepspace5soul, this Austinite has proved his talent is equal to, or better than, Dust - the group’s regular beatsmith .
Deepspace5’s squad (larger in size than the number in their name) attacks tracks in packs and as tag teams. Like the Idiots, their faith fashions their rhymes and yet never seems overbearing. Those who fail to open both ears may even miss the depth of their dialogue, but it’s unmistakably there.
Take the tale spun in “On a Side Note.” In this narrative, Sivion breaks down the relationship ministry his team built with a fellow MC/ds5 fan that earned them an opportunity to share their hope. Elsewhere, on “Enemy Mine,” Sintax the Terrific kills with stellar verses about his own self-reflection.
Acts like a pacifist / talks like an activist / but hasn’t walked a picket line and isn’t that compassionate / preaches Christ adamant / but really loves to mock God’s children as they stumble in the TV that he watch / reps hip hop and speaks with forced street slang / like maybe he took a course in how to freestyle lame / sometimes I feel like I’m fighting a phantom / or featherweight boxing with the heavyweight champion / dancing in my corner to tackle the enemy / and see if Me is up for battlin’ Me
Although he’s not the best MC of the bunch, he can always be counted on to deliver spiritual significance to his songs.
At the end of the day, ds5 is more talented than the Scribbling Idiots, but both The Have Nots and deepspace5soul are ideal alternatives for hip hop fans sickened by the shallowness of regularly rotated rap.
Scribbling Idiots - The Have Nots
Record Label: Illect Recordings
Beat Rabbi & Deepspace5 - Deepspace5oul
Record Label: Illect RecordingsTrack Listing
3. Carry On
5. Lip Service (remix)
6. The Founder
7. Last Samurai
9. On A Side Note
10. Life Is
11. Deepspace Seoul
12. Soul in the Horn
13. Dance Your life Away
14. Say Something
15. Double Dog Dare You
16. Park Bench
17. Downtown Connects
18. We Got To
19. Enemy Mine
20. Absolutely Nothing
21. Say Yeah
22. Deepspace Soul