Vintage Imperial :: Synergy :: Vintage Imperial Music
as reviewed by William Ketchum III

The hip-hop in today's market is infamous for its materialism, misogyny, and violence. At the most, aside from your occasional Nas' or Eminem's, most artists either sell because of a hit single, hot beats behind them (i.e. the Cash Money Records crew), or a more popular artist backing them (i.e. Ludacris' support of Chingy). While Kanye West has helped bring lyrics back into the spotlight, for the most part, the content of songs doesn't really seem to matter anymore.

Enter Vintage Imperial, the Atlanta duo of Kid Kaos and SI One.

The duo's name is very well put: "Vintage" implies a classic feel with top quality, while "Imperial" represents superior authority. From the opening notes of the "Three Fold Illusion Intro," the "vintage" of the group's name is evident. While the group heavily relies on the classic feel of pianos, xylophones, and sampled voices, producer SI One (who produced every track on the album) manages to make every beat sound different from the one before, and he keeps the production at a high level throughout the entirety of the disc. "Back To The Future" screams old-school with its b-boy heaven horns and scratching, "Lifestyle Is Vintage"'s upbeat pianos and background singing are inspirational, and even the bare boned pianos of "The Only Interlude" serve their purpose.

Synergy's lyrics don't fray from the album's vintage feel either. Whether it's spitting witty punchlines on "Combining Perfect Rhymes Part 2 (C.P.R.2)," taking political stances on the Premo-esque "Out To Get Ya," or showing storytelling ability on "Boiling Point," Kid Kaos and SI One are both MC's emcees. Peep Kaos' hilarious description of losing his job on "Out of Work":

"To realize I'm getting laid off
I play it off like I don't want the job anyway
Knowin' I got bills and they're due any day
But I left with my pride, now I'm just hoping
That I can scrape up enough money for promotions
Girls hittin' my cell, and everything seems great
I only accept booty calls, I got no money for dates
If I had a piece, believe I would start firing
At the people that say 'sorry, we're not hiring'
So now I'm broke, this the day that I was fearing, kid
Went to Burger King, they said I didn't have experience
People love my songs, and say what up on the street
Meanwhile, I'm wondering how I'm getting somethin' to eat"

This is one of the best LP's to be released in a while, independent or otherwise. Not since Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek's Train of Thought album has there been a more immaculate marriage of rhymes and beats for the entirety of an LP. Whether its this combination of production and lyricism, or the blend of vintage with new school, the verdict is clear: the Synergy of Kid Kaos and SI One results in incredible hip-hop.

Music Vibes: 10 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 9 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 9.5 of 10

Originally posted: May 11, 2004