Pocket Dwellers :: Lifecheck :: URBNET Records
as reviewed by Vukile Simelane

Bust this. Soon as I popped this disc into the drive, I said to myself, 'these muhfuckas sound like the Roots.' That's a fair assessment given the fact that this is an "eight-piece outfit" that features a "multi-talented, multi-instrumental, and multi-influenced collective." My brother always says it's unfair to compare live hip hop acts with the Nelly's and DMX's of the world, as this is supreme talent and capacity on display. If you ask me whether I dig "Do You Want More?!!??!" or "Get Rich of Die Tryin'," my heart will inevitably rest with the former. Not that both LPs aren't worthy of praise, but we're dealing with ice hockey and golf. One could argue all day about which one requires good technical aptitude in order for one to excel. Ultimately, it boils down to a matter of predilection. That said, the Pocket Dwellers' "Lifecheck" is fuckin dope.

The opening title track is a cornucopia of these wonderful instruments, melting together to form a rap-fusion mle. "Ask Somebody" is another live cut recorded during two nights at a popular spot in Raptor City. Scratches can be heard underneath the bass and sax. The Pocket Dwellers' line up "includes guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, a cadre of horns, a couple of turntables" and an M.C in Nigel Williams. "Cum Wit Us" is a racy, edgy 70s TV show theme song kind of song, with a wicked alto sax solo mid jam. The MC is on some vocal riffin tip, reminiscent of "Essaywhuman?" It's relatively easy to level similarities to this LP as it has an analogous feel to the Roots' live LP in terms of sonic layout and attitude. Williams even seems to have a hint of Black Thought's singing-rap touch. But only just a hint. "13th Funk" is evenly-accomplished and is something Ronny Jordan or Jonathan Butler can take pride in. "Red's Concoction" is the drummer Marco Raposo's creation, and is an exciting display of bravado; and one muthafucka of a drum solo. Even the crowd gets over-amped near the end. "We Do This" has the word funky emblazoned on its forehead. Nigel calls out:

"We do it for hornblowers
farm daughters and real martyrs
firestarters, evolvers and toilers..."

"Sight Beyond Sight" is a speedy, celebratory horny jam where the MC hollers:

"An eye for an eye baby
truth for truth, regretting most mistakes that mine made in youth
It's all apocalyptic, written, encrypted, depicted
The planet getting shifted
Time fabric, we just ripped it
Fat like a lipid
Nationality like the black book predicted
It's sickening how he's stricken with this affliction
Sex is my addiction, soft wet friction
Jah is you listenin? Feel what I'm missin..."

"Listen to This" is a salsa dance between a turntablist, a bass guitar and a tenor sax. Beautiful shit. And then on "Eye Of The Storm," an acoustic guitar acts as a landscape for the MC's confusions about the end of the road for mankind. It's some subterranean, deep beneath the surface type shit. Johnny Quest plays his ass off near the end during his alto sax solo. The "Homage" is such a funky melody you'd think it were past its sell by date. Here, the horn section hangs together in unison to create something special. "Green Light" opens and ends with yet another magnificent sax solo, as the LP veers into the uplifting "Shine." This one has a slight twist in that there's a sample of a moaning woman pervading in the background. The end is near with "Dance of the Dividends," and at this point, if you ain't snappin ya fingers and rocking back and forth, you ain't got no rhythmic bone in ya body.

Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7.5 of 10

Originally posted: April 6, 2004
source: www.RapReviews.com