Izmore :: Vital :: Izmore.com
as reviewed by Pedro 'DJ Complejo' Hernandez

Every now and then one of the many independent submissions we get turns out to be really dope. Izmore's "Vital" is such a record as the duo consisting of two brothers comes through with some head-nodding rap that's positive but not preachy. Rich Izmore handles the beats and serves up funky and soulful music perfect for his brother's thought provoking verses. Les Izmore handles the emceeing duties and evokes all that's positive about conscious rap, from Common's thoughtful lyrics to Rhymefest's energetic delivery. Even the cover is great as it depicts a suburban youth sleeping with headphones on (most likely pumping hip-hop) while a crew of zombies creeps through his open window. The image delivers Izmore's message that rap can turn people into zombies, but it also reminds me of the cover to Ice-T's "Home Invasion" which was a dope album in itself.

"Vital" opens up the album and is a passionate plea to save rap:

"You better not die on me hip hop
It ain't your time to leave, plus I got a couple tricks up my sleeve
They need to release, and purify that tainted mainstream
Can't satisfy your thirst if the lakes ain't pristine
I'm tired of countless albums that ain't saying nothing
From now on shark rappers get confronted
I don't care if you hunting, my scope's always aimed if you want it"

I'm not a believer in the "Hip-Hop Is Dead" idea that's been floating around lately, but Izmore's energy is enough for even me to appreciate his lyrics. The positivity continues throughout with the high point coming on "That Work" where Izmore extrapolates on classic Chris Rock skit and equates knowledge to dope dealing:

"I got that Malcolm for sale
Perfect for the streets, it's just what the industry needs
I got that Assata for sale
Perfect for the streets, it's just what the industry needs
I got that Garvey for sale
Perfect for the streets, it's just what the industry needs
I got that Wretched for sale
Perfect for the streets, it's just what the industry needs"

Everything's not perfect for Izmore though because as dope as the duo is, they run into similar problems that other conscious rappers experience. For one, Les Izmore's verses tend to tread the same water track after track. His complex and at times abstract lyricism keeps your attention, but the verses on tracks like "Groundwater," "Lawnchair," and "All or Nothing" are virtually interchangeable with only the hooks on those songs hinting that there are conceptual differences in the songs. The redundancy can be applied to the entire album as the battle inspired songs dedicated at saving hip-hop from wackness take up the bulk of the album. When Izmore ventures outside of this comfort zone the results are very good. "Pour It Out" is an emotional song dedicated to those we've lost in our lives. The personal touch gives the song extra sentiment. "Your Story" showcases Izmore's storytelling skills and is also a dope track about the consequences of one's actions. "Zombies Scene 1" is a dope conceptual track where Izmore's lyrics compare his mission to change hip-hop to the task survivors of a zombie attack face when attempting to retake the world.

Overall, "Vital" is a dope rap album from two talented brothers. The brother's positive message and "hip-hop is dead" mentality may not be for everyone, but their talent should be enough to overcome any ideological differences. Les Izmore suffers from the same repetitiveness and lack of focus that many battle rappers face when making whole songs, but shines when he puts together cohesive songs. Rich Izmore is a talented producer and seems in tune with his brother's vision as an emcee. Next time around more varied topic matter and maybe even a few party bangers would do wonders for the album's variety, but even still Izmore's "Vital" is a recommended album for fans of positive, thought provoking rap.

Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7 of 10

Originally posted: September 25, 2007
source: www.RapReviews.com