Hailing from Pitssburg, PA, The Foundation is a group of three rappers and one singer. The formula is an odd one, but works well as the female singer is confined to doing the hook every now and then and only singing a limited amount of verses on the album. The rappers themselves handle their job well enough but fail to standout amongst themselves or amongst the myriad of rappers already out. The crew is definitely better than your average “low-budget local ma’fuckas” as the intro implies, and with better production there certainly isn’t a reason they could expand their fan base, but as it stands “The Groundwork Project” is a shaky foundation for an average group.
The album’s first song, “Foundation Up,” sets the trend for the rest of the album as it features the emcees talking trash on wax over an unimpressive beat. That tends to be the album’s biggest problem, as the production is not bad by all means, but it fails to leave an impression on the listener. The drum tracks are simple and at times sound a little shallow, and most of the melodies are equally simple and not very catchy. There are a few exceptions in the mix. “Destiny” is one of the albums better tracks both musically and lyrically. The beat features a driving brass melody that’s catchy, though the drums sound a bit artificial. The track is a solo track for group member Destiny and features him spitting brags well enough to garner some replay value. The Kanye-approach works well for “Da Street,” though the concept has been done ten times over both musically and topically. The male singer on “Rough Dayz” and “In Da Morning” works very well, “In Da Morning” is especially good as it features a decent beat and a catchy hook. The vocal sample and melody on “This Life” are both sick and turn in probably the album’s best beat. The emcees also ride the bounce beat well.
The rest of the album features production that is lackluster. “Scream” is an attempt at a club track but the melody is not catchy at all and the female singer is just plain bad. The female singer actually ruins a few tracks on the album. At certain octaves she sounds okay at best, but other times she detracts from the songs. On “Got Me” she sticks to a limited number of lower notes and doesn’t do too bad, but the mix of bland synths and loud snares bring the track down. She actually ruins what could have been a catchy song on “You Told Me.”
The beat on “Money Issues” is just plain horrible. It sounds like an attempt at something innovative as the drums play second string to the instruments, but the instrumentation is simple and bland. “Bringin Da Heat” is way too simple to be on any rap album as the loop repeats constantly for the entire song. “In Da Wind” features a nice intro and a solid foundation for what could have been a very good track, but the production sounds like it’s missing something and not fully developed. “Down Under” has a menacing string arrangement that sounds very good, but the drums sound like a bad impression of a southern beat.
The emcees themselves are much more consistent than the production, but they are consistently average. They do have engaging and charismatic voices and they flow very well over the beats, but lyrically they say nothing noteworthy. Most songs fall into one of three categories: battle raps, street tales, or love songs. And whichever category a song falls into tells the story of what that song is like. “Foundation Up” and “Down Under” are battle raps where the emcees brag about themselves with punch-lines like “[I’m a] long shot like I’m Rocky.” “Rough Dayz,” “Da Streetz,” and “In Da Morning” are street tales where people die, hustle, or struggle. The best of these is “In Da Morning” where the main concept is the things a drug dealer hears about waking up in the morning as he’s opening up shop.
In the end, “The Foundation” is neither good nor bad. The emcees and the male singer do have a good foundation as both emcees flow very well and the male singer sounds good. This trio alone could probably produce a hit or two given the right production and promotion, but packaged as they are here they do nothing to standout. Some production is good, but overall the trend is simple instrumentation and simple drum tracks that produce average songs. The concept of a female singer works well, but the singer fails to handle her duties well. Being “The Groundwork Project,” there is hope for The Foundation as this album seems to be only the beginning for them. Next time around with better production they might actually earn a spot on your play list next to the scores of other similar rappers out there.