Modenine :: E Pluribus Unum :: Questionmark Publishing
as reviewed by Matt Tomer

Modenine cites Big Daddy Kane and KRS-One as major influences. This isn't surprising at all. Not to compare him to the aforementioned legends, but dude is vicious. Battle-based, he often lets nasty one liners and punch lines highlight his songs ("only pass the Courvoisier when you walk by the bar" get it?), but he isn't limited to them. With a dexterous flow and a quick wit, he reminds me of a Nigerian version of Royce da 5'9."

Modenine wastes little time getting "E Pluribus Unum" off the ground, as the introductory title track is a banger. Sample-based (or at least it sounds as much), it utilizes an infectious jazz-funk loop, appropriately kicking off the album, as the production tends to stay on track with this style. Throughout, the production is on a soulful tip, often reminiscent of producers like Alchemist and 9 th Wonder, sometimes sounding not far from what would be straight off the Justus League express line.

"Cry," an award-winning hit single, continues this trend spectacularly, using a super soulful beat for Modenine to tear up. "Who got the Rhyme" is darker, demanding a steady head-nod, while "Nigerian Girls" serves as a good dance track. And while "Leaders of Tomorrow" is an admirable concept lyrically, the message doesn't fit the killer beat like a killer verse would.

Modenine shares an extremely similar vibe as that of underground rap scene of the US. He hates on commercialized, "watered-down" music, which is normally a stale subject, but in coming from a foreign emcee, it is a refreshing take on what would otherwise be cliché. As such, knowing that our American influence goes beyond 50 Cent is a nice thing. The soccer track "It's a Goal" goes to show the difference in culture, as such a concept has and will never be used in American hip hop, I can almost assure.

He flaunts his game on "Spectacular," shooting just shy of superhero status ("even though I'm not Spiderman"), and his update of Nas' classic "NY State of Mind" to "Lagos State of Mind" is definitely not as sinister, but he gets points for trying. Elsewhere, the confusing "Hands Down" leaves things on a bizarre note ("ugly chicks in the building put your hands down?" Am I hearing right??).

Modenine is versatile as an emcee, but he tends to stick to the traditionalist side. He'll teach ya a thing or two if you haven't paid attention: "If you don't know anything about Kool Herc your rap history needs work." Say word. The occasional empty boast like "my flow's so ridiculous" is sometimes squeezed in between his other heaters, but they don't sound bad. Matter fact a boast from him is normally believable - he's that tight.

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

Originally posted: May 22, 2007