Friday, October 06, 2006


(Super Happy Wax)

Matt "Smoke" Smokavich is a member of Seattle Christian hip-hop collective, Oldominion, who -- at one point -- pretty much owned Seattle hip-hop. As the MassLine set (Blue Scholars, Common Market) gain more traction, Oldominion has become less visible, perhaps overshadowed by their own group-within-a-crew trio, Boom Bap Project.

Smoke has spent much of his time in Oldominion as a hype man and producing various tracks for their releases, but he's never really had a chance to shine on his own. For his debut, "Bleed," Smoke channels his inner El-P to bring his Def Jux-lite album to life.

The album's opener, "Compress," is a paint-by-numbers Def Jux-type song. In fact, it's a pretty weak way to start an album that supposedly has six years behind it. "Killa" has a RZA-influenced intro, but goes into another El-P drum track that sounds like a marching band stomping in my ears.

As a whole, "Bleed" is very difficult to listen to; much of the production is held together by your run-of-the-mill hipster blips and beeps that passes off as hip-hop these days. Smoke's rapping style is some mix of Everlast and Johnny P. Church, and while he's not flat out saying "Believe in Jesus," it's pretty much implied throughout the recording.

While I commend this dude for not putting out another hyphy record, it still doesn't mask the fact that it's imitative of a style that died two years ago. It also makes me long for the days when I could put on a De La album and know that it was going to be okay.


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