K-Otix :: Universal
Label: Bronx Science/U.M.M. Recordings
Author: Matthias Jost
"It's an Immaculate Conception, accurate connection
definite selection, hazardous to your profession
No protection from this musical perfection
Destroy your section, snatchin' mics from your possession
With no trajection, your whole game lacks direction
Prime time, my rhyme'll outshine your reflection"
(Mic, "Mind Over Matter")
"MC's, consider this the ninth month
the birth of a new sound explode in your trunk"
(Mic, "U Know the Name")
In some ways the release of an album is like the birth of a baby. One day it was conceived, and from that moment on it steadily developped: it was nurtured by studio technicians, rhyme sayers, producers, designers, photographers, record manufacturers, promoters, and went basically through a lot of labor. Its release might get pushed back, or it might be induced prematurely, damn it, in some cases albums are even aborted. But on that happy day a full-lenght release sees the light of the day, all involved are exhausted, but proud parents. Unlike a baby though a record isn't allowed years of maturing and growing into a full-sized entity. The album comes out and it gets judged right away. It's trash, it's an instant classic, it not as good as the one before, it saves a bad year, it fails to live up to the hype, it's my favorite record ever, etc.
So I present you the parents of this particular album here. They're the K-Otixs, a nice and not so quiet family consisting of rappers Mic and Damien and producer The ARE. They've actually been together for some time. The two rappers first teamed up in 1992, and it must have been love at first sight, figuratively speaking. They live in Houston, Texas, where they actually stand out a bit because they do not share the interests of most other rapping residents in that area. But they remain true to their faith and serve hip-hop the traditional way. Their credo goes something like this: "I'd rather be the 'unsigned hype' than the type to be the unhype signed" ("Mind Over Matter"). You guessed it, they belong to the mic-wrecking, headnod-inducing bunch.
Thank God they're not as overzealous as some of their peers who constantly try to force their definition of 'hip-hop' on everyone else. Only once do they exaggerate a little when they say in "Take My Life": "You can take life, but you can't take hip-hop away from me." But love, even disappointed love for hip-hop, often produces great songs. K-Otix are not yet disappointed in hip-hop, they very much believe in its powers: "The Word" shows they fully trust the weapon that is the word:
"With this mic in my right hand
I can reshape the face of the world and shift sands
Child, woman and man stand on command
communicating with others across foreign lands
Understand, the Word can bring wisdom to a fool
a destructive weapon, or constructive tool
The words that I speak can give power to the weak
courage to the meek, hope to the bleak
The power to combine with minds of many kinds
whether written or recited or spoken within a rhyme
in time, the way my very life is defined
Crossing over cultural, economical lines
the ability to break barriers, break bread, break ground
break it up, break it down
Words can contact and impact with sound
make contracts with verbs and attack with nouns"
Another stand-out track that evolves around rap music is "My Life (Alter Ego)", divided into three parts that track hip-hop's very existence. Check the mid-segment:
"My life is half soul, half rock 'n roll
Half my people done sold platinum or gold
'bout 30 years old and I'm still in here
and I still bring fear with my name up here
I am the DJ's and the true MC's
I am the b-boys and graffiti
I am the Epiphany of ghetto street symphony
They mention me, plus scapegoat with no identity
Frequently many accuse me of indecency
Grown folks say I'm nothing more than obscenity
A remedy for poverty, as an outlet
I reflect on how loud the sound get
Write in riddles and I speak in bars
the result brings money, jewels, stars in cars
While my heartbeat hum like an 808 drum
I told y'all: where ya at, not where ya from"
Anyone who enjoys a deeper relationship with hip-hop music can relate to Mic when he reflects: "I am what keep you up late at night / I bring Big, Pac, Pun and L back to life / I am the very soul of a whole generation / frontline when it come time for player-hatin / I am what Uncle Sam claim to be / and this is my autobiography."
So now we know where the K-Otix stand. But what's their position in the food chain? They won't be able to run with the big dogs, marketing-wise, but their mic skills should make the hair stand up on a lot of these fake cats. Tracks like "Legendary", "U Know the Name" ("The blueprint for lyrical rhythm and rhyme fusion / few wouldn't expect direct out of Houston / Solution for crowd movement, never confusion"), "Untitled" ("MC's be talkin about that they styles is fly / but they records wouldn't sell if they did a joint with Princess Di / and had a new Pac verse that he recorded last week / Your flow's less than booty, it's more like ass cheek"), "Take a Breather" ("Universal style carry on / floatatin over tracks like it's Perrignon / let it bubble over cons and these fake dons / with fly raps that'll out-tap Savion / So what you say, huh? / let a player play on / Snatch the mic back from kids, give em crayons / play with that, facts purer than Evian / I capture and train rappers like Pokemons"), "C.P.R.", "Frequencies" ("Most of y'all are in it for commercial presentation / no rockin' without the proper documentation / Fuckin' with it before you're committed is fornication / I rock hard with a rock-hard fortification") and "World Renown" are sure to make for an attentive listen.
You'd wish though they'd let it rock a little more when it comes to the production, like they do in "Mind Over Matter", or came up with more concept cuts like the hilarious "Front Row", where they clown those who line up in the front row of a concert just to show how unflinching they remain in the face of great hip-hop music:
"There's always one in the front row
actin' like he don't know
starin' at me like a ho but don't wanna say "ho"
The crowd blaze it up
the wanna-be thugs don't wanna raise it up
Got your lips tight, screw face the whole night
but at the end of the show they be like, "That's hype!"
Yeah right, you're lookin' at me like you wanna fight
See, I'm the type that'll throw down the mic
and I'm quite nice with adjectives and the pronouns
but some clowns stare me down like a showdown
and when the love go round you gets no pound"
Those of you who do not fit this description, those who get excited when they witness a MC rock a hot beat with tight lyrics, show some love by buying this album. The K-Otix are not unparalleled. In fact they are paralleled by many others who use the same means to achieve the same ends. To really knock me off my feet, they'd have to hit harder. Says K-Otix producer The ARE in an interview with www.diyhiphop.com: "I feel there has to be growth in each record/cd that you release. You have to show your listener that there is progression in your art and that they have something to look forward to in your next release. This is important while establishing your group and sound or else you may become stagnant in the industry."
Unfortunately they haven't been following this through themselves. Those familiar with this crew might be a little disappointed by the inclusion of several previously released joints. What the K-Otix and with them many other crews fail to understand is that a debut album is a new beginning. You have to take it to the so-called 'next level' with it. Not the next level for the artform in general, but your own personal next level. Avoid putting yesterday's work on your debut album. As good as it may be, your new material has to be even better.
But not everybody has the opportunity to buy 12-inches, and for those "Universal" is a entertaining introduction to the K-Otix, who, despite their name, use their rhymes with reason.
Music Vibes: 6 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 7 of 10
Originally posted: September 25, 2001