Everyone who grew up with rap music must remember “Yo! MTV Raps.” Doctor Dre and Ed lover were near cultural icon status as hosts of the show that always played what you wanted to hear. This kind of thing is what everyone who mentions the “good old days” of rap music is talking about. Just old-school, feel good music until the credits rolled. The duo played a huge part in making rap the cultural phenomenon it is today.
Team Demolition, a four person group from DC, knows this. They must have been reminiscing for a while now, because they channeled their collective thoughts into a sophomore record that is homage in title as well as content. “Yo! TD Raps” is constructed with simplicity in mind. The beats are mostly stripped of complexity, with the traditional beat and sample predominating, and DJ Dialtone’s scratches drop in for good measure. The rhymes are similarly sparse, as all of the emcees are capable but seemingly restrained. There are even a few instrumental interludes to showcase Dialtone’s talents that sound just like those from the days of wayback.
For the most part, this formula works. “Yo! TD Raps” is really easy on the ears. Each emcee bounces around the tracks with confidence, and the lack of complexity is mostly made up for with their refreshing attitude. “The Ultimate” starts the record off with a mellow simplicity and each emcee shines on his own. They aren’t rapping about anything in particular, just rocking for the sake of it. At first, neither the rapping nor the instrumental will strike you, but after a few listens it will grow on you. This quickly becomes a theme with the first part of the album. With the help of live instruments, Dialtone crafts several subtle beats that fit the old-school theme perfectly. “Who, What, Where and Why” is the best exhibition of the emcees, as Zechariah Wise, Jady Experience, and Lord OP execute a concept song perfectly with tag-team flows about weed smoking.
Unfortunately, the album’s innovative concept becomes Team Demolition’s downfall. The simplistic production loses steam towards the end, and the same curse befalls the group’s rhymes. There are a couple of gems on the tail end (The rabid string loop on “Hold On” comes to mind), but mostly nothing that will grab you. All of the music is solid, and executed well, but ultimately repetitive. It is admirable that they would try to pull off the throwback, and there are some excellent moments. This is just a reminder, that no matter how classic the old-school phase was, there is a reason that the sound has evolved. Very few records stand the test of time, and they are all household names among rap fans of all ages. The music has changed because it was natural that the rhymes gradually get more complex, and the production become more refined as well. TD takes plenty of liberties with the MTV Raps theme, updating the sound whenever deemed necessary, but the result is still too standard to be a complete success. Give Team Demolition props for this creativity, especially since they are clearly capable of making great music. I’m just not sure that this format is the best way to showcase all of their considerable talents.