Friday, March 28, 2014

Written Off Your Psyche

You might remember me ranting about how excited I was by a couple really great releases by an underground NJ rap group called Written On Your Psyche a couple years ago. Unfortunately, by the time I'd discovered them, they'd already split up. So even though you could still go back and pick up their old records, it was definitely a bummer. But just because they split up doesn't mean they quit music. In fact, what I have today is All Of a Sudden, a solo CD by Psyche's Poet Substratum, now going simply by Poet, released by Delinquent Soundz in 2008.

Right off the bat, this is not as good as the WOYP material that got me so excited in the first place. But that's a very high benchmark; and taken on its own terms, it's a pretty neat, underground album.

Poet is definitely playing from a weaker position without Bolical Jenkins to rebound off of, but he's hurt more by the lack of Saheeb Bad Health on the boards. The lush, vibrant music of the later WOYP is not here, and that's a shame. Really, if you haven't picked up Grounded and the "In Control" 12", you need to do that shit. But, just because this album isn't playing on that level doesn't mean it isn't worth your time; so let's look at what we actually do have on here.

The music here is provided by a variety of producers. I don't know who DefDom is, but he provides two very nice tracks that come close to matching the Psyche sound. One of those tracks is hampered by a sappy, sung chorus; but that's the only corny hook on the whole album. Venomous, another Delinquent Soundz artist, loops some great samples on two more tracks. And DJ IRIS concocts a wild, percussion-heavy beat with a really funky old school vibe. Custodian of Records cooked up two chunky tracks in his traditional style (always a good thing); and WOYP's DJ Priority is back to provide some nice cuts for this album.

So that's about half the tracks - definitely worthwhile. Two more are just skits you'll definitely want to skip. Then the rest are more generic, indie hip-hop fare. Decent but not too exciting. On his own, Poet definitely sounds thinner. He does get a bunch of guests to help out - including Venomous, Phonetic, Skitzo & Victor KJ. They basically all wind up occupying the same space as Poet, though, so it doesn't feel like much is changing when the mic is passed. Only Skitzo really manages to bring a welcome shift in energy towards the end of the album. 

Lyrically, it's alright. Not much stands out as exceptional, and only one song (the juvenile "Please Don't Go") stands out as poor. The best verses are cool; the rest just equate to filler. Nothing wrong with it, nothing compelling about it. Here's a random sample: "Miss you as we wish you all bon voyage. Yo, my doctor says my lungs look more like London fog. Phonetic brought a bag and I brought my bong. Yo, we're patterning our philosophies on Cheech and Chong." Like... it's kind of clever? He comes off better when he's writing a conceptual song, like "Motivation," which is really a solid effort on all fronts. But most of the time he's just spitting verses it's hard to muster a strong opinion on.

The album ends with "Written Tape." I don't know if it was recorded for this album or (as the opening skit implies) dusted off from their vaults. But either way, it's a proper WYOP song, with Bolical back to trade verses with Poet. It's produced by Chicken Sandwich (uh?), who also did Written's early, pre-Saheeb material. It's fresh, and the hearing the pair reunite sounds as good as you'd hope. It's a really great, fun song.

So it probably reads like I'm pretty tepid on this album; and you might even wonder why I bothered to write about it. Well it's true, I am tepid on this album over all; but the highlights are high enough that they should be checked out. Hell, I'd get this album just for "Written Tape;"  But songs like "Motivation," "Cleaning Wit the Custodian" and "Lookin One Way" really are first class, solid songs, too. And even the rest is at least decent album filler. And even though it's a six year old, super indie album; apparently it can still be found new from CDUniverse of all places. Or you can probably just find it online to download. So give it a shot; I'm glad to have my copy.

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