Released in early February 2008 in anticipation of Valentine’s Day, “Baby Blue For Pink” showcases QN5’s clever lyricism and laidback production. A quickly rising label worthy of comparisons to Def Jux and Stones Throw Records, QN5’s best-known artists include CunninLynguists and label founder Tonedeff. Rightfully so—as they are ridiculously talented artists—but QN5 is also home to a number of more unheralded talents.

Marketed as an alternative to Michael Bolton for V-day fornication, “Baby Blue For Pink” is a half-serious, half-cheeky take on love and relationships (as the double-entendre title might infer). Mr. SOS’ “Digital Video” contains the most outright tongue-in-cheek sentiment, an earnest proposal for homemade pornography with the risible tagline “Let’s immortalize us, pull out the tripod // and on the road I’ma watch you on my iPod.” CunninLynguists emcee Deacon the Villain provides the sensual beat and adds the most potent verse: “When it’s Tool Time I’m Tim Taylor // I don’t wanna savor I wanna Justin Slay-ya.”

Elsewhere, the DMV-repping Subtantial offers “R Love Songs Gay?,” a sincere discourse in defense of hip hop songs for women. Contending that the rap game has become “a fuckin sausage party,” Substantial’s smart rhyming melds smoothly with Tonedeff’s pensive production. Underground favorite PackFM adds the necessary pre-break-up track to the record, a surprisingly candid, melancholy monologue. Deacon employs wailing trumpets on the beat, and his classically southern crooning gives the chorus a late ’90s Outkast feel.

The best track is perhaps the sole remix, a hauntingly fatalistic reflection on a current relationship by Cashmere the Pro. The remix is almost undoubtedly an improvement on the original, as Kno creates a frighteningly beautiful arrangement of Indian-tinged strings and a New Birth sample in place of a chorus. Wrapping things up is Tonedeff’s “Close,” by far the EP’s sexiest (and raunchiest) joint. Tonedeff motor-mouthed cleverness is harnessed perfectly, here:

“My boner tells me he really hates ya guts, and that doesn’t seem right
Feel free to spit in his fuckin’ face and choke him ’til ya see white
I’m makin’ a beeline for ya seaside palace, so please guide me inside as we grind
Or until your shoulders are equal to ya knee height
While you continue to ride me like I was a speed bike
Put a fire up under your steamy Hot Fuzz like Edgar G. Wright”

Of the six-song EP, the only misfire is Session’s “The Letter,” a rather forgettable stunt track with a silly twist. As far as Valentine’s Day tapes go, though, there’s nary a label that can produce an object as charmingly tongue-in-cheek as QN5. While ostensibly minor, “Baby Blue For Pink” is still a wholly viable engagement.

QN5 Music :: Baby Blue For Pink
7.5Overall Score