The journey of Impulss as an artist is rooted in the tragedy and triumph of New Orleans. "Pleasure Club" came out right after Hurricane Katrina had devastated the city, but Impulss found reason to celebrate through good beats and rhymes, as if to say that his hometown's ruin was only a very temporary setback. When 2009's "Category Shybe" came out that recovery was fully underway, and just over half a year later the New Orlean Saints would win the Superbowl. There are still areas on the frontlines of the flooding that have never been rebuilt or still need assistance, but the victory definitely gave the hard working (and playing) people of the area an emotional lift. That sense of anything is possible informed the second album as well, with a fearless willingness to talk about anything from the mediocrity of commercial radio to violence found throughout the streets of N.O. - proving you can love your home turf while not turning a blind eye to the realities of the day to day life there.
"Marie Laveaux's Hustle" follows in the tradition of those earlier albums, with the ever versatile hip-hop artist fulfilling multiple roles on his new disc. The liner notes credit him as "producer, writer, performer, recorder, mixer, & masterer" among other things, although he does get the occasional assist on production throughout the CD - more on that in a minute. Vocally I is among the higher-pitched artists to rep for New Orleans, a city whose rap scene is often noted for excessive testosterone and syrupy thick accents. Impulss has always broken molds though and "Hustle" continues the trend. Artists you might never have expected to work with Impulss in the past are suddenly all up in the mix, as Prince Po combos up with him on "Do It":
Impulss: "One for the 9th Ward, two for the Uptown
Three for the Drew Brees pass to Bush touchdown
Every beat's like a brand new lesson to seek
I'm like a master Mason with a new apprentice to touch
Every session I expose the devils and see
the world's backwards so the Earth shall inherit the meek"
Prince Po: "Lyrical arsonist sparkin with terrific spit
Slant-eyed Martian with chops to get you lifted quick
We calibrate your database before it crash on you
The fact a trash-ass can update to mash on you
Splash tracks, pull the black P hottie
Ride or die you better ask somebody"
The only downside of the song may be that the wailing trumpet sample albeit enjoyable sometimes overpowers the vocals and makes them hard to discern. "Tumblin Down" featuring Akon doesn't seem to have that problem, with guitar parts written and performed by Skip LaGrange. Kon's contribution seems minimalized and limited to chorus only, although if he was going to be on the song I would make the most of it - especially given the song's point is to make sure Katrina's events are not forgotten:
"I went parish to parish, went ward to ward
They had a plan yo, so they had National Guard
The Lord gave them tenacity to get past crisis
Yet Shell have the capacity to raise gas prices
Gradually we'll see the erosion of the wetlands
Start of it makes the levee break inside my sweat glands"
This is not one of the more hopeful songs Impulss has on "Marie Laveaux," as he questions where General Honore is now or why things today are "badder than they ever was." Still it's hard to stay down in the dumps for too long listening to Impulss, who is determined to rock his brand of hip-hop "Thru Eternity" and beyond. "Pressure Cooker" is a tribute to Organized Konfusion that I wasn't expecting, and maybe a leak of that song was what brought Prince Po in to collaborate in the first place. "Photo ID" with L-S-P and Rita LaGrange bounces along over a light flute melody but still backs it with hard hitting drums. "Fly Talk" featuring Nesby Phips grooves, rocks and rolls with plenty of soul, and the Bazooka Joe produced "Do It" remix makes the original medley that much more deadly. On the whole it's good to see Impulss has kept up on his skills both in front of and behind the boards, and while I wouldn't say "Marie Laveaux's Hustle" exceeds the standards of previous works, fans of his sound won't be disappointed.
Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7 of 10
Originally posted: October 5, 2010