Reviewed by Stephen Adams
After the industry politics, the shelving of the much anticipated 'Call It What You Want' album, the release of an independent EP ('Baloney'), and three core members (including crowd favourite Pigeon John) choosing to pursue solo careers, finally LA Symphony now have a second album under their belt. The album is released by Gotee (CCM market) and Basement (underground hip-hop scene). However, it's a complete curveball. The jazzy, funky samples of their previous work have been almost completely traded in for digital synth beats and their happy-go-lucky lyrical content in places swapped for a more sombre look at life, which considering their recent industry woes is hardly surprising. The album starts with the title song, an anthemic banger driven by synth brass riffs and pounding drums as the five-man crew let the listener know that LAS are ready for war, despite the hard times. "Ghana Homage" is an emotive, poignant track describing the Symph's struggle as the audience is allowed to feel the group's frustration and pain, while "Dreamin'" features a blistering last verse from group leader Cookbook, who schools talentless MCs who see hip-hop as a way to make money. However, the humour is never completely lost as tracks such as "Here To Party", "187 On The Dancefloor" and "Charlie Brown" are vintage LAS. Despite the very welcome presence of Pigeon John, Greatjason and BTwice on a few tracks, for the most part the group doesn't skip a beat without their more popular members. However, the new sound has teething problems, as songs such as "I Can't Have Her" take getting used to and others like "No Excuse" and "The Emcees" would have been served by much better beats. All in all this showcases the art of honest, heartfelt MCing, as the group are not afraid to ask God the hard questions about their lives and examine their circumstances. But it might be a shock to those who were expecting a familiar sound.
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