The latest compilation disc from pH music is "School of Emceeing – Volume 1." And with the current state of rap music, what hip-hop purist would oppose it? With so many artists in the industry just using music as forums to brag about their extravagant lifestyles, demean women, or praise violence, it's about time that someone stepped to the plate to actually teach these young men and women (and increasingly nowadays, boys and girls) the significance of being an emcee.
Class starts with "Orientation" by Doom E. Right. Over hot piano keys, Doom E. spits about topics such as avoiding a life of crime, and the devious nature of politics:
"I wanna live life in the fast line
roll incognito with no last name
trippin, time is slippin like nothing changed
they wanna put money in sublime all the time
tryna get mine, the world is creepin up from behind
you see they want it, everytime I flaunt they try to take it
they say it's about getting girlies naked
it's yo world, and money's getting nasty like a showgirl
ain't nothing she won't do for you
if you got dough boy, you go boy"
Hold up, this is a storytelling track; where are the songs that are criticizing the status quo of the rap game, and the tracks giving a step-by-step tutorial on how to be a good emcee? After all, with a title like "School of Emceeing," shouldn't they be teaching us how to be good emcees? Conceptual jewels like Ron Karona's "Whathappenedtorappin" and Educated Consumers' "English201" keep the schooling theme of the disc alive, with each song complaining about the current state of rap music and telling what rap used to be about. But the best way to teach is to lead is by example, and the artists on this album know that. Part of an emcee's job description includes the ability to tell a story, like OUO's reminiscing about their early love for hip-hop on "Dotted Lines." Being an emcee is also about raging against the system, like the aforementioned "Orientation" or the politically conscious "War," by MF Grimm. Additionally, any complete emcee should be able to utilize clever metaphors and crafty wordplay, and these skills are exhibited by Kev Strange and Kombat, on "Don't Doubt It" and "MC Killer," respectively. Most of all though, being an emcee is about whatever's on your mind, and it's hard to question the sincerity of Asheru and Aychell on "Idea":
"A warm rhyme book made of suede leather
letters on the page light as a feather
but heavy as they come, I
become one, with the drums
simple tongued, very few can do it better
now I've been known to do my thing
on the mic here and there
some local, some far away from home
and every case that I flow
you ask the people who were there
and they tell you how the block was blown"
The emceeing is so important on this disc that production credits don't even come with the album. However, this doesn't mean that there aren't hot beats throughout. . does a great job of recapturing the feel of old school hip-hop, The slow, soft guitar licks on "You and I" set the perfect milieu for Kool Kim to spit his personal lyrics, Noyeek's "Noyeek The Grizzly Bear" features some incredibly dope piano keys and a fat bassline, and Omegha Rhed's "Ray-Cizm" has the energy of an underground banger. While actual wack beats on this disc are far and few between, not many of them are spectacular either. The tracks are rightfully understated, because the lyrics are the real highlight here; maybe there's a "School of Producing" compilation in the works.
While 22-tracks and 71 minutes are a bit long, the majority of this disc is quality hip-hop music. Anybody who's looking to make asses bounce with a club single, go cop the recent offerings from J-Kwon or Trillville; whoever's looking to get a glimpse of what hip-hop is really about, get your pens and notebooks ready for the School of Emceeing.
Music Vibes: 8.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 9.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 9 of 10
Originally posted: March 16, 2004