Artist: 2-Man Cypher (Sleep x Cocaine Chris)
Album: Queen City Bastards
1. A Message From The Fans – Buzzin’ (Intro)
3. The Hunted
4. Project 48
5. Ain’t Playing With You
6. Broken ft. Koren Jackson
7. Lady In Black
8. Queen City Bullies (ft. Mike Tombs)
9. Heartless (ft. Koren Jackson)
11.Sad World (ft. Trademark Aaron & Nick Pedigo)
12.Top 5 (Cuts by DJ Madhandz)
The first few weeks of 2014 have been extremely slow for music, especially GOOD music. But when I heard Queen City Bastards, I got excited. And it takes a lot for a blogger to get excited about music because we go through so much of it on a daily basis.
Sleep and Cocaine Chris are insistent on putting out the highest quality music they can and in the process are making heads notice the city they represent, Cincinnati. That is no more indicative then on this album, Queen City Bastards. When you listen to this album in it’s entirety you realize that they took no tracks off. They never let up on the gas pedal. This was a full throttle effort on their part.
The first cut I want to talk about is Project 48. Project 48 is a great song because is exhibits the incredible amount of chemistry that exists between the emcees. When I heard the song, I instantly thought of another great duo from the mid-1990s. I am talking about Smoothe da Hustler and Trigga that Gambler. Their song Broken Language is easily considered a classic. These are also the type of exchanges you hear on Project 48. You have Sleep’s voice with a rich deep tone and Chris’ voice by contrast has a higher pitched rasp. The two styles play incredibly well off of one another as both emcees pack a hard hittin’ lyrical wallop.
Now one thing I haven’t mentioned until this point is the production of the Dope Antelope. He has a crazy name (we will have to inquire) but an even crazier knack for production. The structure of his productions are all strong. He offers listeners and the emcees he works with, hard hitting drums and an impeccable knack for utilizing vocal samples. This album is filled with references to the aforementioned. One of my favorite tracks is Heartless where Dope Antelope utilizes some symphonic strings and banging drums for the emcees to rock over. Singer, Koren Jackson also really adds a lot of texture to the song with her intense chorus. But in my mind, Cocaine Chris dazzles with his verse:
Heartless, never been close to nice / I ain’t the social type / Emotions out in the open, I ain’t give two fucks as to what you like / Truly evil, the rudest of all people / See life weathered me cold and left me this dark ego / Close minded, stay blinded by all my jadedness / Highly complicated on top of their most hated list / They yelling compassion, I say I don’t play with it / Earned to many scars from my past, lost may with it / So now I’m on my new shit, attitude fuck em’ / Mild fingers up, nigga what / Doubt I’ll ever love em…
Excuse my french but that’s some really cold blooded shit on so many levels. One of the most frigid verses I have ever heard. And that’s what makes the next song on the album a very interesting choice. On First Born, Sleep and Chris do a complete 180 and talk about something they feel with all of their hearts…their children. It provides for an interesting dichotomy from the song prior. Dope Antelope creates a perfect production for such a topic. The cut is somber and the sample he uses can give a father a chill. Both emcees address the trials and tribulations of being fathers who are away from their children but they are both passionate about their blood. Lets take a quick look at Sleep’s verse.
You the best part of my soul / The sole reason that I’m writing this song / I sold dreams to myself , til you showed up, growed up / Got the news you was coming, I think I throwed up / I ain’t have a dad how the fuck could I portray one? / Gotta stake, see I could never betray son / Looking in his face, it’s the same one / Reflection / I’m reflecting , not that you left / But your moms when we broke up, I was a mess / (I still am) but I get you on the weekends, that’s cool / Twice a week but I’m thankful / It’s better than nothing / I love heart like it’s better than fronting…
Sleep’s flow has a lot of internal things going. It’s not straight forward and I like that. There is certainly a lot of substance taking place and it forces the listener to really pay attention to the verse’s intricacies.
So what’s the bottom line for Queen City Bastards? It is this: The album sets an incredibly high bar for the rest of 2014 that it may just go as unparalleled this year. Sleep and Cocaine Chris are the evolution of what Group Home (from Gangstarr Foundation) was in the 1990s. It’s hard, when listening to Cocaine Chris, not to think about Lil Dap. Their voices resemble one another (not completely but enough to make the comparison). But it’s not only that. It’s the fact that the two of them, along with Dope Antelope, are bringing back that raw hip hop flavor that harkens back to the Golden Era. How many duos are making hip hop like this? I can’t think of a one. There is such a need for 2-Man Cypher in the game right now, and no one is doing it the same way. The production on the album is flawless. The flows and verses are all well above the vast majority of emcees. The length of the album is perfect. Not too short, nor too long. So my next statement is a bold one: Queen City Bastards, if heard by enough people, will be considered a classic hip hop album.