Sleep – The H.W. Bush/Clinton Era (2015) (Review)
Album: The H.W. Bush/Clinton Era
1. Intro: Produced by The Gonz
2. Broad Daylight: Produced by Wonder Breed
3. Freak A Black: Produced by Wonder Breed
4. Watch This: Produced by Wonder Breed
5. Front Row Murder: Produced by Wonder Breed
6. One Saturday Morning (Interlude): Produced by Pbizzy
7. B.Y.O.G: Produced by Wonder Breed & The Gonz
8. My Brother: Produced by Wonder Breed & The Gonz
9. Mama Said: Produced by Wonder Breed
10. Government Assistance: Produced by Wonder Breed
11. Cannibilazation: Produced by The Gonz
12. Whateva We Get: Produced by Inkomen
Sleep from 2 Man Cypher dropped a new album last month, entitled The H.W. Bush/Clinton Era. And from my previous experience anything this man puts his hands on from an artistic standpoint is as good as gold. When I finished listening to this album, and thinking about his previous work, I couldn’t help but place this man in the ‘visionary’ category. There are traditional elements in his music, but there’s also something that’s unorthodox. He pushes the limits with his technique and bars. The rhyme patterns are certainly not elementary. His style is more thoughtful, intricate. and diverse.
One of my main concerns when I started going in on listening to this album was initially the production. I did not see veteran affiliate, Dope Antelope, on the production tip and I am a huge fan of his. I was not familiar entirely with Wonder Breed and The Gonz. But I was quickly put at ease with the beat selection. They drop it heavy on the majority of tracks, serving up some tough tracks, which suits Sleep perfectly.
On The H.W. Bush/Clinton Era, Sleep is bringing it back to the time when these aforementioned presidents filled the Oval Office, also known as the Golden Era of hip hop. At the end of every track, Sleep lets a snippet of a prominent 90s song close out his song. The selections range from Biggie to Bone Thugs N Harmony. That small element may be subtle but helps to transport the listener back to that day and time.
On track Watch This, Sleep and his Cincinatti cohorts show the public that the Queen City has a wealth of talent when it comes to rhyming. The production from Wonder Breed is a dark banger that works itself around the dark recesses of the mind, while each emcee, with their own unique style, drops a memorable sixteen. There is a verse for all tastes on this cut.
The next track, Front Row Murder, is also a posse cut that features more sinister production from Wonder Breed. There is a haunting appeal with this track, which seems to be Breed’s M.O. throughout the project. Let’s check out a part of Sleep’s verse:
Salute the king when he come around / They want me to dumb it down / But even if I did they dummies and couldn’t get around / If Tupac was with them, Humpty Hump was in the back seat / Is you fucking with Sleep? / No diggity, that’s Black Street / I rap because I’m good, never money nigga, that’s you / That’s crew…That’s Frat / Get your old head slapped / At you back to back like Drake with his back against the wall / Clap you then I pass it to a youngin’, let him take the fall…
The last track I wanted to touch on is the thought provoking, Mama Said. This is a concept track that follows suit with Sleep’s previous work . It features Sleep entering the mindset of a young woman following her mother’s poor advice from a lifetime of bad experiences. It’s this type of track that resonates with listeners. It’s a message that makes the social-consciousness of the listener rise to the top. Each bar tackles a piece of advice that a mother gives her daughter. That advice continues a cycle of domestic and economic depravity. It’s a message that’s been stated time and time again, but Sleep has a true gift in presentation that sticks, while other’s messages just blow in the wind.
In the end, there are two sides to Sleep: There is the emcee who can just body a beat and put all competition on notice with his sharp wordplay and intense delivery. But there is also a man who has great insight into issues that effect society and put heartfelt artistry into conveying a message. The H.W. Bush/Clinton Era is a melding of these two personas. In particular, the first part of the album is about showing that unique gift with words. The second half has a more personal investment with the aforementioned, Mama Said, and other tracks like Government Assistance and Cannibalization. But here is the takeaway: Sleep is one of the most talented artists currently making music in the underground or otherwise and this album is yet another demonstration of that immense talent.