You know something's going on when you boast a straight up old school up style and you met, and began your career, on the Internet. Impossible? Nope, Impossebulls. After linking up on Public Enemy's website, C-Doc, Tirade, Marcus J Gilligan, Private Militant, DJ President Ike, and DJ Def Chad, were orchestrated into a group under the guidance of none other than Chuck D. These cats hail everywhere from Ohio to Pittsburgh to NYC to Flint, Michigan and on the opening track, Tirade even goes so far as to claim that they're the most diverse crew in history. At least he picked a fitting name because he went a little too far with that one. They do bring a different style, but it's only different for the time period. With the vintage break beats and conscious, political lyrics, this crew comes with a sound very similar to artists like Public Enemy, KRS-One, and Pete Rock. The album is entirely produced by C-Doc, the first member and co-founder of the group.
"One Man's Dope" comes in with fading strings and scratches that almost resemble a poor man's version of a Premo beat. But DJ Premier on a bad day is better than most on a good day, so this beat holds it's own. The concept plays off the "one man's trash is another man's treasure" proverb, as each MC kicks some thought provokers. C-Doc comes in with a nasal delivery and a throwback cadence as he spits:
"One man's dope is another man's curse
One man's drink is another man's thirst"
Marc, with his somewhat young voice and fluent flow, kicks his verse next:
"In one man's smoke is another man's breath
In one man's choke is another man's death
In one man's boss is another man's slave
And one man's loss could put a cross on his grave"
Last is PVT Militant and his name fits his sound. The raspy, powerful voice almost resembles a drill sergeant yelling over a break beat.
"One man's dick is another man's cock
One person pulls the trigger, the other's getting shot
One man is asleep while another awake
One man's a vegetarian, the other eats steaks"
The bad thing about sounding like a drill sergeant is that they probably don't much time to work on their MC skills. If you notice the disparity in the length of his lines on paper, you'll also notice them on the track. He has to speed up words and say them in a less natural way in order to fit what he's trying to say into the flow, which detracts from his clarity. Not a fatal error, but it makes him sound more amateur. Some polishing would definitely help. He's not alone when it comes to little quirks like these. Tirade's goofy, fluctuating delivery makes him sound like he's joking at times when he's probably not. C-Doc occasionally sounds, for lack of a better word, "nerdy" while Marc crosses the "preachy" line every once in a while. None of these faults are severe enough to directly effect a song but they add up to detract from the overall quality of the album.
One of the main highlights of the album is "1 Nation (one fam)." This soulful, breath-of-fresh-air type beat sets the mood as the MC's drop conscious lyrics about unity and the misdirection most Americans seem to be caught in. This has PVT sounding more comfortable on the mic as he spits the catchy chorus:
"One nation, one fam, gotta know where you stand
Don't believe the hype, we're all human
The Impossebulls are livin' proof and now that we stand
I repeat we are one, ugh, I command"
Perhaps the best song on the album is "Circle of Lies." It starts with sound bytes about Bush stealing oil from Iraq. The electric guitars and aggressive drums set the tone as C-doc tears through with his most energetic verse on the album. Tirade holds his own as he kicks lines like "they got us running in circles like a track gets looped." Then the man himself, Chuck D, comes in, rolls up his sleeves, and shows em how it's done. His flow is on-point, his words are clear, and his mic presence makes you listen as he spits:
"So now you gonna tell me that the war is won and what's done is done
And all good for little Bush, I been there before
Got a letter from the government slid underneath my front door
The poor get fucked while the rich sit amused
And what's left of the Bill of Rights get pimped and abused"
When it boils down to it, these guys have one element that many dope MC's don't, and that's a message. Unfortunately, none of them have reached the level of a dope MC. Individual charisma is lacking, but each one brings a little something different to the table. They're all out to bring hip-hop back to the way it used to be, but at times that actually works against them. Taking it back to the roots is a good thing, but the most successful acts use elements that worked in the past and combine them with elements that work in the present. When I first listened this CD, I searched for a release date because I couldn't figure out why I was reviewing an album from the late 80s-early 90s. Turns out it was released in late 2003. That being said, this still isn't a bad album. There are some standout tracks and some standout verses by each MC. We get a glimpse of how things could be if they updated their style to the 21st century on the track "RSVP," the most lyrically rich and musically progressive song on the album. More importantly, it's the most unique song, one they might be able to coin as "Impossebulls" sound. They have a few kinks to work out, but if you can't let go of your old school hip-hop, then these guys can give you something new to hang on to.
Music Vibes: 6.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6.5 of 10
Originally posted: November 30, 2004