Alias the @ikt :: The Voice Lessens ::
as reviewed by Susan 'susiQ' Kim

Alias the who? At-ikt... addict? Get it? As a Puerto Rican emcee hailing from Florida that keeps it original even with his name, Alias the @ikt's latest release "The Voice Lessens" demonstrates the passion that creates his music. As Alias says, "the style I created is progress made from the foundation laid." Wanting to defy the rules of hip hop and any other mainstream stage, Alias walks the path as an independent artist with his own rhymes and collaborations with J-Lit and X:144.

With production from X:144, Mike Warner, Sweet Tooth, and spinning from DJ SPS, "The Voice Lessens" blends personal accounts, social and political issues, battle rhymes, and once again, passion as the "backbone" to his music and soul.

Throughout the album, the optimism in Alias' lyricism unleashes the fervor of what he aims for. Launching with fragments of sounds from an electric guitar and followed by an atmospheric melody in "Until... ," Alias recognizes sacrifice despite complications and disparity. In an upbeat "Get It There," the rhyming from Alias keeps positive as he shows that through struggle and effort you will eventually "get there."

Also, packed full of soul, piano keys for the intro, and a melodious voice crying out, "And then you're gone after all the years," "And Then" is a stand out track that reminisces about all of the important individuals that once crossed paths with Alias, but are no longer present both spiritually and emotionally. He recalls the life of his "brother from another mother" who falls victim to a life of crime and violence, the memories with his ex-wifey and her current wellbeing, and his crew back in the day with hopes of one day coming together once again as Alias says, "... but it's all love/I still put y'all above/rest and hope/we pass the test and come back together."

Reciting the definition to the word "father," Alias dedicates "Oh Daddy" to a higher being above. On a more serious note, it's as though he is having a conversation and asking for forgiveness as he verbalizes:

"Look I aint beefin' with you
I'm just speaking with you
Cause every night before I'm sleeping
I'm thinking it through
I think I've come to this conclusion
The reason we losing
Is 'cause we're choosing
To stray from your role
We cruising
On a detour
Lost our chance to be pure
I wish you'd speak back
Cause I can't be sure
Yeah we've grown strong
That don't make it less wrong
You might not be the cause of it
But you let it go on"

However, in "The Voice Lessons" Alias falls short with its excess of tracks involving battle rap themes and attempting to "one up" fellow rap artists/emcees. Don't get me wrong. Although every rapper should be entitled to a track or two boasting their abilities and fortes, overkill is unnecessary. In "The Land of a Million Emcees," Alias shows that "everybody is a rap star" and professes that not just any one can handle the rap game. With its turntable scratching intro, "The Rundown" attempts to call out all the rappers lacking skill to eventually "give 'em the rundown." "The Informed" is yet another track devoted to provoke and mock the competition in a condescending approach. Unfortunately, Alias' lyricism and cadence lack in these tracks as the rhythm became rather redundant. The constant repetition of vowel sounds in his rhymes became monotonous as I expected some different types of lyricism throughout.

Personification of hip hop has been a choice topic for many artists' tracks. Alias' attempt in "What Up Hip Hop" is a clever spin on what has been done in the past. He introduces "him" as said from, "... everybody gather around and what I want you to do is when this beat drops say what up to a friend of mine." The track slowly strays away from the initial concept of the real life depiction of hip hop and reverts back to the excessive verses aimed towards rival emcees.

Even with its high and low points, "The Voice Lessens" makes a statement as an album that combines an assortment of simple beats, wordplay, and imagery. With a little more variety in lyrical style and complex beats seen in a twisted, rocked out, electric guitar enraged track, "Endowed Release" with its mixture of rock and alternative sounds, Alias will move up in the ranks quickly. Definitely not mainstream, Alias' commitment to independent hip hop is clearly seen. In any case, you can't help but feel and believe his music; it is almost humbling to say the least. It's true... it's because he has passion, plain and simple.

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

Originally posted: February 6, 2007