Marvel :: No Streets (Just the World) :: Mumbles Hip Hop Records
as reviewed by Jesal 'Jay Soul' Padania

According to the album's attached blurb, Canadian hip hop seems to suffer from something akin to an identity crisis this could be said about many a country around the world. The crux of the matter appears to be the 'Americanisation' of a nation's sound, as opposed to finding their own way an accusation routinely thrown at UK artists (less so now, however). Marvel, the Toronto-based rapper, has assorted a production team of Canada's finest in order to put together a project that encapsulates the sound of his city streets. And the result is a pretty special musical soundscape...

Following a short intro, the album launches into 'No Streets' and I must admit that it took me an hour to move onto the third track! The Kardinal Offishall-produced banger is the perfect way to kick off proceedings, contrasting overbearing piano-driven melody with understated production the result is an exceptional cut. Marvel himself delivers well enough, and gives a taste of his talents to come over the rest of the LP. 'Skankin' follows, and the track shifts through the darkness and halfway through the song, the MC suddenly transforms into an incarnation of 1999-era Slick Rick. It is bizarre, but keeps the listener on their toes and the Saukrates beat is superb. Darkness follows with the underwhelming 'Time of the Signs', but the funk returns immediately on the brief 'Mission One' helped by sterling input from guest Arcee. A lush Pete Rock-esque beat produced by Mr Attic laces 'IT', providing one of the most memorable cuts on the album. And clearly Mr Attic is a talented dude, as he transports back to the 1970's effortlessly on the next track, 'Hold On'.

My suspicions that the album is a brooding, nocturnal listen were further confirmed a couple of songs later when K-OS guests on 'Follow Me-Flip', providing another standout cut. The LP is wonderfully subdued and like a vampire would probably evaporate if exposed to daylight. This is purely a night-time joint, perfect to chill or drive to. The final official cut is the random instrumental track 'Palm Wine' it really shouldn't work, but somehow provides the perfect ending. Three bonus tracks follow 'Throw This Ball' should really have been thrown out; 'Red Light District' musically fits into the theme of the album flawlessly; and 'Shituations' is solid, but perhaps unnecessary.

If I haven't mentioned much about the MC thus far, that reveals my ambivalence towards him he is pretty tight, with a pretty good flow, and pretty good lyrics. He is neither wack nor exceptional Marvel is just there. And that's OK because this album is really more about the music. If Marvel was more or less of an MC, it would disrupt the balance of an excellently put-together musical treat it seems as if his real talent is putting together this album, constructing an almost flawless ear drum experience. If this is what Canada can produce sonically without even breaking stride then people need to look towards T-Dot more often for inspiration.

Music Vibes: 8.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7.5 of 10

Originally posted: September 11, 2007