Albums like this do not surface from recording studios on a regular basis. A simple word such as "classic" is thrown around too easily in 2004, to the point where it's used as slang for good, and not something that has taken the endurance test. When it comes to the term "instant classic", it grabs the attention of the reader. What makes this album so unique? It both boggles and confuses the mind.
Originating in DC, moving to Rhode Island, but now calling Los Angeles as their current homebase, the name Time Machine may immediately bring thoughts of going back in time. In this case, the three piece Time Machine doesn't want to so much go back to the early 1990's, but to be able to bring back the fun elements of hip-hop that once existed everywhere is a temptation like no other. This is what the group is about, honoring the music and community of the past and showing that it is very much alive, not cold to the touch, where it has to hang up on the wall as archived history.
"Slow Your Roll" is the group's debut album, a record that is lyrically and musically challenging, with the same kind of creativity that would make kids want to rewind the tape until it snapped. Yes it is THAT kind of album. MC's Comel and Jaysonic sound like the kind of guys who have been eagerly waiting to just touch the mic, as if something has been holding them back for years. Or maybe as the old saying goes, "heads ain't ready."
What you do get when "Time's Fly" starts is something that sounds and feels familiar, the gentle introduction of a chopped jazz break. Immediately the beat may come off first as boppy, and yet when Jaysonic starts off the album with his verse, it has the warmth of a family reunion:
"Would I be telling a lie if I told you you can fly?
Well, how would you know if you never even tried?
Just flap your wings with all of your might
Before you know it you'll be riding the wind like a kite (aight!)
Things look different from way up here
It's like sometimes you gotta float away to see things clear
Nothing's such a big deal when you see the whole picture
And that type of perspective just makes your soul richer
Ever wanna see how close you can get
To the sun, before you start breaking a sweat
Pay a visit to the man on the moon
Have dinner with him, and dessert on Neptune
Freefall back to the Earth's atmosphere
And get a bird's-eye view of what happens here
Around the world in eighty nights
Or maybe quicker, depending on the speed of your flight (aight!)
When people say I'm fly, there's two definitions
One, I got style, the other's like ignition
Blast-off, now I'm leaving the ground
Man, you know what's fly? It's the Time Machine Sound"
"A Million and One Things to Do" already gained some respect when it was released as a single. The hard, bass heavy beats and scratches, along with the chanted chorus, is immediately addicting. Comel hits the mic, and immediately one may want to compare him to Son Doobie of Funkdoobiest, where certain words and vocal tones are exaggerated:
"It only takes a second for a cause/effect reaction
Surprises, thoughts, hurricanes, and lighting flashes
So many things to do in a world were time keeps moving
It's hidden in the corner and unorganized lose it
Must keep it moving cause the time don't stop
And if I pull my plug then that's only one clock
A million things but no job, not lazy plus I'm no slob
I wish time I could rob and just keep it in a jar
If I had a billion that's a lot more than a million
The time I would distribute take a break and feed the children
Build a bio dome and reconstruct my state of living
And give my girl some QT for emotions and her feelings
Do things with no priorities, let telemarkers bother me
Practice what's hard to me, and master myself colossally
Hand out some parts of me, which is better than a moment
Then give some of my time to try to find where time is roaming
Found out it's stuck in Romans, but made it to Revelation
Was on the corner with some cat saying the end is waiting
I set my watch to meet up but forgot the zone changes
But even if I did then forgot about daylight savings
Hard to get a grip when that minutes impatience
I sit but never settled cause time's constantly changing"
It takes a few minutes to digest all of that, but once realization hits, it's overwhelming. One may find themselves asking "where have these guys been?." Perhaps they've been trying to figure out the difference between "keeping it real" and the reality of the fakeness that exists in today's music. They reply with the intense "Let's Not Be Real":
"Let's not be real
Like hair grown from Rogaine with monoxodil
Head's up, it's a toxic spill
You gots to chill
Let's not be real cuz counterfeit is cheaper
Like buying gear at the same spot you got your beeper
Let's not be real cuz everyone likes big breasts
And you're getting less attention with a-cups on your chest
Get real, I smell your insecurities
That baking soda odor exposes impurities
What's your cut? 90-10, 80-20, 50-50?
We all got butts, and we all get shitty
For real though, is that real joe or decaf?
Girl, is this a fake number, or you giving me the real math?
On the real, my name is Felix
I starred in The Matrix
I live my life fearless on an every-day basis
I've been so many places, eight or nine continents
My big cock's as fat as Hitchcock, can you stand the suspense?"
Jaysonic starts the song on a high note, and one could easily see the song fading and moving on to the next. But Comel reaches deep, and a completely different style of flow:
"Let's not be real, fuck that I bust steel, got a half a mil
And on the weekends I pump cril
Got a record deal and on it the lawyer said that I own it
Beats and components and I could what ever I wanted
Let's be real, wait let's not I own the world, you and your girl
Mars, Saturn and Jupiter that's surreal
And I'm steering the wheel on NASA space shuttle and then I huddle
To choose the play on Super Bowl Sunday that's on Monday
Lets be crazy, naw I'd rather not be real
Cause when illogically I reason things that's unreal turn real
And a senseless rhyme sentence makes sense when it's mentioned
In a real environment and it's heard by real henchmen
Then a realist and idealist then reveals it's unrealness in paradoxical
Analogical, and an optical view clearance
Real parents, real errands, real meat on that sandwich
Or really unrealistically relate with real coherence
Lets keep it unreal, hakuna matata, god damn it
Cause when my rhymes unreally wrap I rap with real clearance
And when one is illogical all things become apparent
So fuck fuck the real, and lets unreally do the damage"
Immediately, listeners may think they have the Time Machine formula down to a tee, two sharp MC's trading off verses and making attempts to further quality lyricism. They pull out another trick from the bag, and decide to pass the mic, one line each MC, in the very educational "Spelling Bee":
"You can't spell HEROIN without HERO, heroes pick up
bad habits quickly turn to zeroes
You can't spell DISAPPEARANCE without EAR, you get
old, your sight goes, then you cannot hear
And you can't spell AMERICA without ERIC, that's my
government name, now that you know it, forget it
Well you can't spell MANIAC without MAN, some men lose
their mind and never find it again
You can't spell SULTRY without TRY
Don't try so hard love, cuz you caught my eye
Well, you can't spell REMINDER without MIND, don't
mind me, I'm just a bit forgetful sometimes
And, you can't spell COOKING without KING, I'll make a
meal for your girl and turn her into my queen
You can't spell PROMISCUOUS without PROMISE, get
caught cheating and your girl leaves, don't be astonished
Yo, you can't spell ECONOMY without CON, don't get
conned into donating to that telethon
You know you can't spell RESERVATION without SERVE
you better show up on time for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres
You can't spell MARRIOT without RIOT, a hundred buck
for room service, Comel won't be quiet
And you can't spell FUNERAL without FUN, hope you had
a good time cuz now your life is done"
The album's tracks are produced by a number of different producers, and yet together it still manages to make the songs sound cohesive. Edan not only produced "Asshole", but drops a verse which in turn may bring some of his fans towards this crew:
"Feeling alienated I move through the crowd
The bullshit, I tune it out, but still I do the rounds
I do the pounds, the hugs, plus the cordial kisses
She's at the bar getting drinks, you trying to score the digits
All these people on the party scene is trying to fuck
The venue got a reputation, so they're lining up
I seen like 50 brutes kick it to this pretty crew
Of bitties who was getting attention from how the titties move
The world of witty fools trying to play it pretty smooth
But they was silly too and shallow like the kiddie pool
I play the wall like a Zen Buddhist, a trend student
You been stupid, trying to fondle on a fly model
That's when the wine bottle shattered on the dance floor
I saw you laying on the ground with your pants torn
You copped a feel like a heel and got slapped cold"
Cussin', fightin', and carryin' on indeed.
What makes Time Machine work so well is that they compose their songs in a fashion that you hold on to each and every word they say, in the hopes of hearing what's next. What you hear next may be familiar, other times it's unexpected. The songs demand repeat listens, and while they do offer instant gratification, the 18 songs on this album are also the kind that are impossible to leave in the bedroom and ignore. It's all word play, no gun play. No sex rhymes, in fact both Jaysonic and Comel are all about "QT time" with their ladies, and what makes this work is that it doesn't sound like everyone else. The recent trend of love rap comes off fake after awhile, when it seems everyone wants to repeat the formula of the last man. But in the album closer "The Way Things Are", produced by the group's DJ, Mekalek, Comel delivers the last verse of the album in a "subtle and smooth" manner that Big Daddy Kane may highly approve of:
"You know the story but this time I'll be gone longer then November
The schedule contiued all the way next December
You wouldn't hold me up we discussed do you remember
My suitecase full enough, I got your poems plus ya picture
I'm loyal as a dog even when other bitches sniff up
Would call but whoa how much for international minutes
My departure a given this life choose me
I can't complain I love how I'm livin'
Brigthen up when I get back there be more loot for spending
Might invest in a car but if not I'm still drivin'
Me and you could have children
Forever everyday building
I'm in it for the long haul
But the music need my attention
A blessing is what I'm wishin'
Before I exit, we been through thick and thin
This isn't hectic
If you leave I'm a object at ya wedding
Love is stronger than pride, but her tears kept on drippin'
Shorty kept on riffin don't go she threaten
Use the ill nana as a ill weapon
Didn't think twice reach out grabbed her hand and
Meet her eyes and let out this sentence"
The sentence in question involves the main sample and hook, and it feels more like a soul song than your typical "love rap" song. It's a love song that doesn't go over the head, for it speaks honestly and sometimes honesty is all you need to show how genuine you are.
One doesn't have to go through the things Jaysonic and Comel went through in order to enjoy "Slow Your Roll", because there is an entire generation who may not understand how great this album is. There's a sense of energy in each song, line, and word that very much exists these days, but the current state of things may make it hard for the casual fan to spot it. The group take themselves very seriously, but also don't mind showing a funny side and a personal one, occasionally knocking out the metaphorical bricks in the wall to allow others to hear what is going on in their minds. Passionate? Time Machine are very much so, and more, and it means much more than playing cuddlebug with your significant other. It's a passion for the words and rhymes, and for Mekalek a passion for the turntables that involves much more than filling up the space between verses, and creating some incredible instrumentals that may make him the next "it" man. If "Slow Your Roll" doesn't end up on a lot of Top 10's or Top 5's at the end of the year, something is not right. An "instant classic" by all means, this is one of the penultimate hip-hop albums of 2004.
Music Vibes: 10 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 10 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 10 of 10
Originally posted: May 4, 2004