How many ill rap groups do you know where the members are brothers? Well, there's No Limit's own TRU - depending on your opinion of C-Murder, Master P, and Silkk the Shocker of course. And.. who else? The ill-fated group Twin Hype, whose members are both doing bids. Can't think of anybody else? There's a new entry in the field now - rappers Oak and NickFury from the group Lexicon. And when you think of rhyming brothers, this duo will ultimately be FIRST on the list.
Lexicon already made noise earlier this year with the underground sensation "Nikehead" - a dedication to every hip-hip head's addiction to their kicks. Thanks to a tight beat by DJ Cheapshot along with a picture perfect Nas sample, this hilarious and worshipful ode to the leather on your feet was a huge smash. When's the last time you heard a rapper confess "Like an alkie to his liquid, I ain't tryin to kick it" when talking about shoes? Not since Run-D.M.C. did "My Adidas" did footwear get this much love:
"I got old shoes, new shoes, on my closet floor
In my trunk, holdin open my door (where?)
Overdue shoes - borrowed from my brother (yup)
Alternates, duplicates, hard to find colors (check it)
I got four pairs of Air Force Ones, high and low
All in all white, one with a gum sole [..]
So if you wonder why I'm broke, or my bank account's dead
(A.) I'm underground, (B.) I'm a Nike head"
If Bobbito hadn't closed his shoe store, this woulda been their anthem - two wild and crazy guys who would "buy food second but a pair of shoes first." Lexicon isn't about to get pegged into a "one-hit wonder" hole though and end up on a hip-hop edition of VH-1's "Where Are They Now?" With their energetic album "It's the L!!" these rhyming brothers wreck to a selection of vintage tracks from Cheapshot, Thes One, and Vin Skully. Spy Tech Records already has a reputation for some of the underground's tightest music thanks to songs like "Subculture" from Styles of Beyond and "Let it Bump" by 4-Zone and Takbir - this album will only improve on it. With no really weak tracks to speak of and only thirteen overall it's hard to play favorites; but include the title track as well as the hilarious "Last Night My DJ Stole My Girl", the ultra silky "Years and Years" featuring Takbir, and a heartfelt ode to rap's glory days called "Charismatic Rapper":
"Let me take you back to the day when MC's were short
And rap wasn't treated like a Little League sport
On this 'Mom I wanna rap when I come of age'
And every MC could control the stage
Remember back then - after the backspin
Before everyone who's a fan was rappin
Back when every album had a classic track
And if it was on sale then the shit was wack
Back when on Tuesday you could find me at the Wherehouse;
every new release on one receipt
You remember it man? (I remember it well!)
(Back when Rick the Ruler was still locked in jail!)
Back a half a decade, when everyone had a fade
And I taped every video that Rap City played
Before Black Sheep broke up, L.O.N.S. broke up,
the Soul Brothers broke up, Tribe broke up"
Highlighting these lyrics doesn't do the song justice because all of the words take you back to that feeling you had back when hip-hop seemed electric with possibilities. The whole vibe of the album is on that shit - doing the best lyrics and music possible and pushing the envelope of creativity and dopeness as far as possible. If there is any stumbling block for Lexicon, it'll be whether heads are going to check for the humerous and well constructed raps of these brothers - these WHITE brothers. You might mistake Southern whiteboyz like Haystak and Bubba Sparxxx for nubian MC's if you weren't paying attention, but these guys are as obviously caucasian as Ugly Duckling, MC Paul Barman, or almost any rapper from the Anticon label.
There's a good reason the review neglected this item until now though - Lexicon are so dope that unless you're incredibly narrow-minded, you couldn't hold it against them. Their topics are as recognizable to a rap fan as any MC in the top 40 - too much weed on "You Gotta Stop", the after hours vibes of "Nightfall" and a desire to bring back real hip-hop on "Makin' Music." As you sink into the grooves and chuckle at their witty tales and punchlines, the vibes take over and the headnod effect is just like any other ill underground release - except better. If you can take a chance on Eminem, you ought to be checking out these underground rappers - rhymes that are just as good without the gimmicks or shock theater tactics; and beats that are so good they can easily put Dr. Dre to shame. The overall package is undeniable - "It's the L!!" is an album any fan of dope underground rap will HAVE to have in 2001.
Music Vibes: 9 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8.5 of 10
Originally posted: August 29, 2001