Wordsmith Sko and beatsmith The Shah make up Sacco & Vanzetti, a hip-hop duo taking their name from two infamous Italian anarchists. The name actually makes senses considering the population of Italians in the duo’s home state of New Jersey. Their latest album is entitled “Battery”, comes with with a cover that’s an image of a spinal x-ray. To drive the album’s theme home, some of its tracks have charging battery sounds incorporated into their productions.

“Battery” begins with a vocal sample from the 1995 film “Casino” before the dark piano keys and reversed strings kick in. With Sko’s raps. he sounds like a non-political Immortal Technique with a similar delivery and more gravel to his voice. The track is bookended with samples of the aforementioned static buzzing reminiscent of the title. Next is “Master of Self”, where the organ samples are well-placed and the sound of Shah’s drums come harder than Peter North. “Ramen” has that ‘90s boom-bap sound as Sko spits on the mic with alternating rhymes about self-motivation and loose drug dealing talk. “Yolanda Vega” has a vintage sample complete with vinyl crackling to its sound as Sko raps several punchlines with an aggressive flow, but the sole reference to the now-retired New York City master of ceremonies is in the last bar.

Arriving at the middle of the album with “Mangia”, Sko makes use of multis and several internal rhyme schemes to rip the mic apart. Shah’s baseline on the production keeps it interesting. Next up is “Step Back”, this one has the slowed, but grimy tempo to its production which reminds me of what the Alchemist would do with his beats. On “Mad Late”, horn samples define Shah’s street-level production here while Sko lets listeners know that both he and Shah have been at this rap game for a long time. “On Fire” makes its appearance in order for Sacco and Vanzetti to “set the bar higher / and stay as sharp as barbed wire.” The beat contains a few layered samples that keep it interesting.

For the final third of the album, “F.T.S.” (which stands for ‘fuck that shit’) sounds like a sample-driven production after being wrapped up in lo-fi sonics. Lyrically, it’s quite tongue-in-cheek despite the seeming nihilism towards everything. “Sir Charles” is a moody requiem with somber production that’s got Sko rapping in an autobiographical tone, from lost friends to what inspired him to rap. Finishing off the album are “Irish Goodbye”, though the flute sampling beat tends to overshadow Sko’s raps at times, and “Vision Board”, arguably the most mellow in terms of production. Sac and Van delivered an album thematically defined by the myriad meanings of the word battery. While “Battery” is charged with enough power to accomplish its goal, Sac & Van should step up musically and lyrically to prevent themselves from shoved into the wrong pigeonhole.


Sacco & Vanzetti :: Battery
6.5Overall Score
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