Fans of hip hop are likely to either cringe or rejoice when they flip the case of Geometrik's debut EP and see the following written in the sand of a beach: "We're In Armageddon but it's not as we predicted the only demons we face are material addictions." Many will welcome this as another much-needed artist who actually says something in his songs, or just another pseudo-preacher in—or what Jay-Z might call "the rap version of TD Jakes." Bordering more on philosophical and conscious scripture than traditional rap music, Geometrik is obviously equally concerned with what he's saying than how he says it.
To ease this eternal conflict for the sake of this review, just apply producer 9th Wonder's philosophy: The music is either good or it's not—regardless of intended audience, genre, etc. The result in Geometrik's case, then, is largely inconsistent. The production here is surprisingly mature and refined; the subtly-poignant string and piano loops add a dramatic, introspective feel which nicely match Geometrik's heavy subject matter. The lyrics stand alone as poetry that can range from good to excellent—boasting a sometimes impractical, though no less impressive, vocabulary of dictionary-necessary words like "abnegation" and "clandestine." Fans of punk rock will feel like they're hearing hip hop's answer to Bad Religion's Greg Graffin. Further evoking strengthening this comparison is Geometrik's pleasant, soothing singing voice and multiple-layered harmonies on some of the hooks like "Window Panes," "Trails of Luminescence," and "Duality."
The major malfunction on Star-Bourne, however, is that Geometrik's final product of all these component parts doesn't equate to microphone dominance. He suffers, much like a younger Talib Kweli, of an unnatural cadence and flow due to a tremendous number of syllables per bar and the prose-like nature of each verse. This leads to many of the lines being downright unintelligible as Geometrik struggles to finish a thought or sentence at regular intervals rather than shortening or stretching them out and allowing them run their own course naturally.
Geometrik obviously had a vision for the Star-Bourne EP, and in that sense, it's undoubtedly a success. The depth of the lyrical content is unquestionable, and the philosophical and conscious themes run well throughout. But, as fans have learned so many times in the past, there are many elements that determine the success or failure of a hip hop album, including the balancing act between what's being said and how it's being said. The Star-Bourne EP does not maintain this balance frequently enough.
Music Vibes: 6.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 5.5 of 10
Originally posted: January 20, 2004