In today’s post-Puffy hip-hop world, the term “underground” is oftentimes seen as an acceptable substitute for “dope.” This new and ever-growing bias is very dangerous. It allows any release that stylistically resembles the established “underground sound” to automatically be given props that weren’t based on its artistic merit.
Whether or not Cali-based duo Styles of Beyond know or believe this is a mystery to me. I do know that their debut 2000 Fold reeks of hard work and talent which will lead to the group receiving the respect that they deserve. A single yet innovative formula is found here song after song; rhymes that transcend the limitations of human situations and hard beats resembling the Rosco Mitchell school of thought (focus on creative tonality rather than melody and harmony).
A perfect example of the S.O.B. style is found on “Part 2 (Endangered),” featuring Simon James and produced by S.O.B.‘s main soundcrafter Vin Skully. Over a track that sounds like dusk in Vienna, Styles of Beyond expertly display their abstract lyricism; “Murder in the first/12 monkeys in a cage in a face off the Tak/With my claws out fangs for blood he thirsts.”
2000 Fold is fattened up by a beat box interlude by Click tha Supah Latin and a DJ cut by Rhettmatic of the Beat Junkies. Styles of Beyond’s first effort confidently stands a cut above the rest and will hopefully school others that, while it may be hip to be unknown and trendy to record for an independent label, you still have to make good music.
Written by John Morrison.