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Deepspace 5
[ the night we called it a day ]


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The Night We Called It A Day - Click to view!The hip-hop supercrew Deepspace 5 makes their return to the game with their first release since 1997. The Night We Called It A Day is the product of a week's worth of intensive recording in Dallas, Texas. Throwing their hats into the ring are Mars Ill (including group leader Soulheir the Manchild), Playdough and Fred Bruno (a.k.a. Phonetic Composition), Sintax the Terrific and The Recon of The Pride, Beat Rabbi from Circumcised Mind, Listener from the Labklik and Sev Statik of the Tunnel Rats. Missing in action is the other half of the Labklik duo Illtrip 1. Locked in Playdough's apartment, these boys got their creative juices flowing and whipped up something sweet, an album that reclaims hip-hop for the emcee.

After a brief introduction of the group members, they all take a turn laying down their souls on the seven-minute title track. This song is produced by Dust (producer and DJ for Mars Ill), who brings his mid-tempo beats, top notch scratching and brooding intertwined bass lines that make this track worth several plays. Freddie Bruno takes a turn behind the boards on the next song "Elementary." Here, the group takes us back to science class by creatively (and impressively) personifying elements from the periodic table. Manchild provides some excellent lines posing as neon. "I've seen adulterous affairs in all the motels where I work / I might burst into tears if I don't die laughing first / My name is neon / I glow, I flash, I dim, I flicker / I hypnotize the world with some words and a picture." The Beat Rabbi is featured on the album's first single "Stick This In Your Ear." This song is a huge success for the crew because it is radio friendly, yet it does not compromise the sound of these primarily underground artists. Instead, Playdough, Soulheir and the Listener rise to the surface, telling anyone who will listen that their rhymes are good for the ear and the soul. The Listener uses this platform to display incredible skills as he recites a written paragraph - including the punctuation. Sev Statik brings a strong verse calling out labels that overlook talent and simply pursue moneymaking ventures on "Winter In Manhattan." This is by far one of the most stinging verses I've ever heard. While it does ring with cynicism, it also delivers truth from an incredibly skilled emcee with a long history in the underground.

The highlights of the album are the skit "Closed Caption" and the following song "This Curse I Bear." The skit is a freestyle by DS5's 'special friend' MC Fong. The Listener interprets this verse from a man who "can only rhyme in sign language." Fong provides us with such witty lines as "he's like an elephant crack-head - he's got bass in his trunk" and "your rhymes are falling apart like a leper on a treadmill." Dust brings a soulful guitar to the album's hidden gem "This Curse I Bear." Playdough, Manchild, Listener and Sev trade four bar verses as they reveal their curse of being unrecognized yet unable to walk away from the mic. This is easily the album's best song. A close rival might be "World Go Round," where the Listener brings encouragement to those suffering. "Without these hard times you and I would not know how to treat prosperity." Beat Rabbi brings a slight progressive jazz feel to this track with some excellent drum patterns and solid bass lines. Other notables from this disc are "F-Words," a brilliant song outlining the crew's perspective on freedom, focus and facts, and "Joywritng", one of three production efforts by Playdough, a.k.a. Harry Krum.

With six emcees, two DJs and four capable producers, it can be hard to evenly share the workload, yet DS5 performs this task adequately. Playdough, Manchild and the Listener stand out as the groups' finest. Sev, Sintax and Fred Bruno bring some strong material but, unfortunately there was only one mic to go around. Each song is well crafted and developed, with the exception of "Murder Creek" and "Take The Rhythm." Those songs will have you hitting the skip button. The production is very strong, especially considering that the album was created in a week. In all in all, this is a very good disc, filled with a wide range of topics to get your brain working and your head nodding. The Night We Called It A Day is especially important for the aspiring writers out there. The diversity of Deepspace 5 is a testament to the many styles of emceeing. When perfected, they can come together to bring truth, life and a good time.
- Jon Corbin
August 2002
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