STYLE: Hip-Hop RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 177522-28818 LABEL: Illect FORMAT: Digital Only Album
Reviewed by Lins Honeyman
For his latest album, experienced Michigan-based emcee Sareem Poems has teamed up with Canadian producer Newselph and it's clear from the get-go that this is a partnership that just works. As its title suggests, there is a somewhat nostalgic feel to proceedings with the opener "Kick'n It" harking back to hip-hop's formative years as the former LA Symphony member professes his love for old school boom bap beats by referencing, directly or indirectly, the sounds of A Tribe Called Quest, Arrested Development and such like. Whilst this release also looks forward as well as back, the organic late '80s feel of this track is maintained throughout the remainder of the album with jazzy, soulful sounds providing the perfect backdrop to Poems' rich baritone delivery and deft wordplay with plenty of space for Newselph to add bass runs, trumpets, violins and so on to enrich the tapestry. It has to be said that never has Poems sounded so sage and elder statesmanlike with tracks like "No Fly Zone" offering up a timely warning about social media without ever coming across as preachy or out of touch whilst the sublime "I'm Right Here" is a heartfelt and breathtaking note to his sons alerting them to what they might experience growing up as black men in America. Elsewhere, the problems of America's gang culture and the usual guns, girls and pills topics found in pockets of mainstream hip-hop are put to bed in reassuringly wise fashion thanks to Poems' ability to undergird everything with his Christian faith in a way that never feels forced or forceful. A number of guest artists make an appearance ranging from Ozay Moore and Composetheway to Chris Orrick and Sivion but the stage on this occasion well and truly belongs to Poems and his producer.
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