As a reviewer slash critic, one often fields the complaint upon listening to any track DJ Premier produced as "that same old shit" that you can recognize as him even before the MC spits on bar one. Unfortunately the Ivy League does not have this problem - a Primo beat would be an improvement over these uniquely yawn inducing beats and rhymes. Say what you will about Primo, but at least his productions induce head nodding, finger snapping feelings even when listening to the most generic or wack rappers (see All City or Group Home).
Ivy League is saved from sheer wackness by their almost transparent sincerity about being dope hip-hop artists. Obviously the recording of this album was a professional effort which was meticulously planned and executed - you can't accuse them of flowing sloppily or of having intentionally bad tracks. Somehow though, Ivy League forgot the essentials that every MC from Run to Rakim taught us in the 1980's: MC means Move the Crowd as +well+ as Master of Ceremonies.
The somewhat ironically titled "Are U an MC?" is the perfect example. When asking a question this loaded you would expect a passionate response but nobody has any venom save Mike G, the last to rhyme and the only one who understands aggression. "You stupid idiots, you think you spittin shit intensely? Seein me is like havin seeds after vasectomies." Money Mike, J-Rock and Half (the other rhymers) should take lessons from G; obviously a true student of the art. Even so, he can't save this insipid beat. Elsewhere E (a.k.a. Raw Cook) displays some potential on "Poison Ivy" and "4 x 400 meters" but would undoubtedly find himself less held down if rhyming solo or to a beatbox.
These Reading, PA MC's are obviously having an identity crisis. To say that you're dropping "Classic Material" when none of the tracks except "Money Mike for President" register above a five on the one to ten energy meter for music and the rappers sound quite frankly BORED throughout, a career change may be in order. When you're coming from a state who's caliber level includes The Roots and the Mountain Brothers, you've got to step it up to truly be called "Classic".
Music Vibes: 4 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 5 of 10
Originally posted: February 27, 2000