Though it's labelled "The Solution" on the cover, this release actually amounts to a split EP with three Solution tracks and three by Concise Kilgore. As well as being on the same label, the common denominator between these two is Salt Lake City DJ/producer Brisk One who is half of the Solution duo (the other half being Amad Jamal) and also a personal friend of Kilgore's. So what these six tracks really amount to is in part a showcase of Brisk One's abilities behind the boards and – not wanting to pull any punches – I can tell you he's a fairly talented guy.
This EP also marks the return of Amad Jamal to the industry after a two year leave of absence and, as he delivers well constructed rhymes over tidy beats, you can tell that he's not a newcomer to the mic. Jamal performed and recorded with some notable figures throughout the nineties and has taken the last couple of years to re-evaluate the direction he wants to take his music. In joining forces with Salt Lake's finest under the humble moniker "The Solution" it's evident before his words burst through the speaker that he's on some bring-new-life-to-the-game tip.
First up is "B.I.T.*.H" which surprisingly isn't an edited acronym for "bitch" and instead stands for "back in the house," which Jamal very much is. Brisk's track opens low-key with a soul vocal sample, a soft piano and a horn riff and then steps up a notch as the drums drop, and it becomes something like a head-nodding Premier beat, complete with scratched chorus. But I don't mean to pigeonhole the sound; as Jamal trades verses with Defari Heru on "Regardless" you begin understand that Brisk crafts nice upbeat tracks that emphasise the flows of those above them, but don't overshadow or overpower them. So, with the accompaniment of a repeated break and a number of strange sampled sounds, Jamal uses Brisk's "The Oath" production as a soapbox from which to drop thoughts like:
"The words that I compose won't win no Grammies
For my performance I'll be no nominee – there's no Academy
But academic, mentally with self I scrimmage
Brisk brought that heat; Amad is no gimmick...
... so I control my destiny
Cause niggaz in this industry
Be on some old 'blunts and Hennessey'
Don't get me wrong I enjoy cognac too
But I got this business to attend to"
Concise Kilgore brings his too. With three tracks from his forthcoming "Digitalis EP" on offer here, and with the Brisk beats beneath him, Kilgore matches the standard of The Solution efforts with a similar flow to that of Jamal, but with a slightly different subject matter. "Polarized Protégé" is probably the barest beat on here, with little more than a bassline and a looped vocal excerpt but it still adequately provides for Kilgore's verses.
"Digitalis" is the best of Kilgore's three tracks as Brisk provides a track with a ticking guitar and key changes prompted by long strings. Kilgore's rhymes rely more heavily on clever word-twistings than Jamal's do, and while both lyricists make similar points about Hip Hop music, it's Kilgore who names names to carry across his point. In "Digitalis'" final verse, he manages to draw comparisons between Jay-Z and J-Zone and Eve and Jean Grae as well as namechecking artists as varied as Ghostface Killah and Ursula Rucker and finishing on a cryptic note about sneakers, but somehow it all manages to make sense:
"Be honest I be killin' this b.i. with one fell swoop
Old school like the fat belly swoosh air force one Nikes
Quit buying Converse and Adidas – you gotta earn them stars and stripes"
"Mulholland Drive" rounds off the split EP with another head-nodding track of chopped vocal samples and strings, and Kilgore spins lyrics about the rap game, Hollywood, and the actors in both. While it's questionable exactly how this EP should be defined – "The Solution/Concise Kilgore" or "Brisk One Featuring" – all three members of the Netweight roster bring theirs in spades, making this a short but top notch (re-)introduction to some fine indie talent.
Music Vibes: 7.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7.5 of 10
Originally posted: November 18, 2003