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In the last few years we’ve seen positive soulful hip hop back at the top of the charts. Kanye West, Common, Talib Kweli and Mos Def were among some of the MC’s that got commercial success with lyrics staying away from the usual guns, bitches, cars and jewelleries. This came like a breath of fresh air for the masses, but for everybody who knows a thing or two about hip hop, we all know that this style has been around since the very beginning.
One group that’s been a proud advocate of smooth intelligent rap since their formation is Tha Beggas. They were first heard on the gold selling Wu-Tang Killa Beez compilation The Swarm. Their song On The Strength is a perfect example of what this crew of nine brings to the culture: Food for thought over well orchestrated mellow beats. The producer behind this classic record is Bolo Gah and in 2005 he released his first solo album. Under the name Bolo’s Kitchen he compiled 18 tracks and titled the effort Blood, Sweat & Years. Every song is produced, mixed, arranged and mastered by Bolo while the MC’s blessing those tracks are all from the Begga Clan. Actually the group disbanded more than five years ago, but a lot of the original members are still active and they now rep Hidden Aspects.
First, we have Black Lotus, a trio composed of Long Axe, Dragonfly and Bolo Gah himself. The group can be heard on two very beautiful cuts on Blood, Sweat & Years. The chemistry between the two MC’s is very good as they trade verses over two very different beats from Bolo. While Back The Track Up is more of an ol’ school party record, 18 To Party is a deep record that reminds us that as kids we want to grow too fast, but in the end we wish we could stay young forever. Long Axe and Dragonfly can also shine on their own. Axe is for dolo on two tracks, Rushing and Marching with Ooh Aah on the chorus. The latter is probably the most energetic track on the whole album simply because the beat is a fast paced one. In the meantime, Fly tells us What’s Going On in his life on a smooth head bopping Bolo beat. The hook is enhanced by very intense keys and strings while Ooh Aah provides one again the rhymes. The roles are swapped on Nothing as Ooh Aah is the main emcee and Fly does the hook. The piano keys on this one are just perfect and give a lot of emotions to the track.
Ooh Aah has 3 other solo songs on the album, all of them slow paced, but very dope. The world famous I’m Afraid The Masquerade Is Over sample is used very nicely on Last Night as Ooh tells a very funny story about a night gone wrong. Ooh Aah is also on Two Things along with newcomers Jim Kelly and Amy Renee. Miss Renee sounds beautiful on the chorus and Jim Kelly seems to be veteran Begga on this one and on his three other solo tracks.
Overall this first official release for the Hidden Aspects/Begga Clan camp is very consistent and has great replay value. It’s a great album to chill and think to. You might not get an energy boost listening to it, but you might as well get enlightened.