The Perceptionists :: Black Dialogue :: Definitive Jux
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

It's been stated before, but it shall be stated again for those who missed my review of "The Razor": in the realm of Boston's hip-hop stars they don't come much bigger than Akrobatik, Mr. Lif, and super-producer/DJ Fakts One. Maybe Edo.G, maybe Guru, maybe Esoteric. Maybe (and this is a stretch) WWE wrestling superstar slash rapper John Cena can join the list; that is if he moves from West Newbury to Boston itself. When you think of that underground, hardcore, lyrically fat and musically dense hip-hop shit, these three top the list. Individually they've done great things, but collectively they are known as The Perceptionists. To perceive is to see, and what they want you to see is that Boston gets taken for granted; but even though they rep their home it's even more important for them to expand your perception of what hip-hop can be and what your third eye can see.

While "The Razor" showcased some of their potential, it was presented in a mixtape-like format that tended to go light on substance and sub in filler. It was an appetizer, not the main course. "Black Dialogue" may then come as a shock to some by actually being nine minutes and seventeen tracks SHORTER than that release, although in some ways that's an unfair comparison. "The Razor" was like tapas, giving you a lot of tasty little bites that could if presented in enough courses be a full meal. "Black Dialogue" on the other hand goes straight for the meat and potatoes in heaping portions. These are full length songs, all new tracks, with only three cuts that feature guests. When the guests do arrive though, they are just as choice as the meal itself, adding the right seasonings to taste. Guru and Camutao flow on "Party Hard," Humpty Hump rocks "Career Finders" and "5 O'Clock" features Phonte from Little Brother. To best appreciate the lyrical flavors best though, you can't go wrong with the Fakts scratched and El-Producto produced "People 4 Prez":

Mr. Lif: "We make hip-hop (hip-hop) blam it your box
or your radio, aerial view of the sit-u-ation
On the station yeah the TV, CD says
I vote the people for Pres
Fuck that rich lil' dummy and the shit that he says
It's just puppetry (fuckery) haven't you heard?
The shit is absurd, don't trust a motherfuckin word"

Akrobatik: "You can believe that what we got up our sleeve
will help the people achieve and maybe relieve some tension
Gettin global respect like the Geneva Convention
But America can't front on this Perceptionist
With a rep for swift infectious hits
Comin from Ak, and Fakts, plus check for Lif!"

While Def Jux artists may for better or worse get a rep for being super-scientifical MC's, the Perceptionists are not didactic or over complex - they're easy to roll with. They stand above more mediocre MC's in their breath control, delivery and vocal tone (Akrobatik in particular) and can flip the illest if needed. Lif may be the more scientifical of the two but "Let's Move" also shows Lif can "chill and watch Miramax" while Akrobtik flips his own channels to find Dr. Weird screaming "Gentlemen, BEHOLD!" over on Adult Swim (big up to the Aqua Teens). "Memorial Day" features a smooth Cyrus the Great backdrop and flips a decidedly anti-war vibe that should open the eyes of the most gung-ho patriot. "Where are the weapons of mass destruction? We been lookin for months and we ain't found nothin," quips Akrobatik. Just like Edo.G said, "The Truth Hurts."

Few albums in the hip-hop diaspora have been so short and yet so meaningful. Each song flips a different set of jewels - from the emotional ("Love Letters") to the lyrical ("Frame Rupture") to the conscious raising spiritual ("What Have We Got to Lose?"). Akrobatik and Lif are the ideal lyrical yin and yang - Lif with a laconic relaxed (almost offbeat) delivery while Ak is the beat inclined punchline master. Throw in Fakts One and the Perceptionists are second to none. "Black Dialogue" may seem short on the surface, but it's long in content and is a wholly filling meal for your audio canals you won't soon get tired of consuming repeatedly.

Music Vibes: 9 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 9 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 9 of 10

Originally posted: March 29, 2005