Strange as it may seem this righteous rap duo got their start thanks to Ice-T, one of rap’s biggest pimps. Back in 1994 when they were known as “The Numbskulls” they cut their first demo in his home studio. Breaks were forthcoming for their rapper Chace Infinite – his cousin was ‘Bigga B’, one of the leading rap impresarios on the West coast. B’s influence landed them a brief deal at Loud Records, but the relationship passed on and sadly so did he. Forced to retreat to square one, the group changed both name and direction.
Now after years of self-distrubution and struggling on tour, Self Scientific is capitalizing on the success of their appearance on Tommy Boy’s “The Black Label” compilation with a full-length album. S.O.L. Music Works is taking a chance with this somewhat esoteric group; but after all that’s what small labels are for – to put out the artists bigger ventures like Loud Records can’t or won’t.
There’s no mistaking the fact that Chace Infinite is from a school of thought that if not the same is at least similar to Brand Nubian and Rakim. On “Love Allah” he puts it rather bluntly: “Yeah, North East West and South/news flash, the black man is God no doubt.” Infinite does not become overwhelmed by his righteousness though – it merely forms the backdrop for his perspective on the wicked world and his struggles to make it day to day:
“Surivival is a must in Los Angeles
The Lost Angels, we captivated by illusion
Hollywood, now do the knowledge, holly-tree
from which wood was carved to weave wizardry
And it ain’t no coincidence to the sense
The masses are influenced by these images”
It’s hard not to find yourself entranced too by the wizardry of Infinite’s wordplay and the musical envelope that DJ Khalil seals you in. When Infinite raps “my music is, meticiulous for the listener’s ears” on “The Covenant” he’s not just talking about the rhymes – the production on this track sounds like the string section from a symphony. It’s the high quality of these beats and a desire epitomized on “Return” to get back to a time “before the rise of lies and fake players and thugs” that keeps this album refreshingly easy to listen to.
It’s hard to find many mistakes on an album this good, but there are a few. “Muderation” comes off trite and cliche compared to the wisdom of Infinite’s other raps – and I find it a little hard to reconcile his “venemous technique” with the idea he comes with “civilized rhymes that make the cypher divine.” Did I miss something, or is violence civilized? I probably need to go back and study a few degrees. Also, “Best Part” was a logical inclusion since it was on the aforementioned Tommy Boy album, but it actually pales in comparison to other singles included such as the banging “Three Kings” featuring Krondon and Planet Asia.
In short, this album is not a perfect debut, but it certainly sounds like one that was long overdue. From the soft tones of the love lament “You Can’t Fall” to the hard pounding beats and rhymes of “Dead Honest” there is a lot here to like. Self Scientific’s voice is that pleasant mix of slightly gruff, baritone, and very articulate; while Khalil’s music and turntablism embody a variety of moods – capturing each with excellence. In a typically slow time of year for new albums, Self Scientific’s “The Self Science” is the perfect antidote to to your winter blues.