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Sunday, March 3, 2013


The third and latest release from Soundsci consists of eight tracks put on wax to remind you why you fell in love with hip-hop. Made up of emcee's Audessey, UGeorge and Ox The Architect, with producers The Process a.k.a. Jonny Cuba and Ollie Teeba, the five man crew's music grows from their distinct musical personalities and respective roots in the hip-hop scenes of ATL, New York and UK. That, in combination with their love of that good ol' boom bap, really brings something unique to the table. It's no accident that Soundsci's "Formula 99" was one of the most praised hip-hop albums of last year in real underground circles. And simply put, if you liked "Formula 99" you'll also love "The Ultimate". It's far from a tired repetition by any means though, on the contrary; the crew sound more in tune with each other than ever before, and especially on the five new songs you can hear that they were going for a new sound for these sessions. And that's something I always liked; to make each release something unique without alienating the fanbase and sticking with their guns, which is what they so far has managed to do; "Formula 99", "The Ultimate" and the original debut EP "Dig For Victory" are unqestionably music from the same group, but each release also has its complete own individuality. For this one, I believe that the members were all working together in the studio; at least more than on previous releases, and even if they were not that's definitely the impression you get when listening. 

The Review
The A-side kicks off with the EP:s title track, "The Ultimate", and despite all the other new songs appearing on side B I think it was a wise move to have this separated. The later tracks are somewhat more somber while still packing a street element, while "The Ultimate" is straight up-tempo stuff that's as funky as it gets. To me it sounds like an homage to the '80s hip-hop and The Process does a great job with adding a B-boy element to it. The real treat of the song is, however, how well the trio goes back and forth between each other; spitting about 8 bars per verse before passing the microphone around, a procedure which is only breaken up for the chorus which once again reminds me of the '80s in it's simple coolness; "Soundsci, and you don't stop/ we got the illafied flow that makes you're body rock/ It's hip-hop, and you don't quit, we got the super-type of flow, it's THE ULTIMATE". Only a couple of songs later we are treated to a remix of the same song, called the DrillaKrilla remix. I'm not sure whether or not this is an actual producer or a remix laced by The Process but, while it's not as great as the original, it's still a damn dope cut. Musically it's pretty much on the same page, it's once again residing in the funky side of life though in a slightly slower manner this time, but a breakbeat type rhythm is still in tact, you got various horns fading in and out, and the way that the group's vocals have carried over so well to this mix makes it a winner. The only thing I am not sure about is the remix's placement on the record - at first I thought it would have been better having it near the end of Side B, considering that we heard the same vocals only two tracks earlier. At the same time, Side A and Side B does indeed sound a little like different entities, meaning that switching cuts between them might have broken up the flow of both sides.

DJ Spinna, who I consider one of the top 10 producers of all time, is behind the magnificent remix of "The Illest"; a song that I always considered amongst my favorites off the group's 2012 debut. Luckily, Spinna does not try to recreate the original beat or mood, instead opting for a completely new soundbed to accompany the accapellas over. Spinnna's take is a much slower song than the original; you can imagine hearing this in an underground club, with its many recurring sound effects juxtaposed against pounding drum programming are complemented with an extremely deep, dark and rumbling bassline throughout; something I usually recognize Spinna on, and which I see as something that stems from his love of house music. The Fat Joe turntable hook, the hypnotic production work and, just like on the original album, of course Audessey and Ox's vocals all make this something truly out of the ordinary. It's great to see such a different version of one of my favorite tracks, especially as to me DJ Spinna came through and brought in something equally good. Spinna's Classic Beyond Real Remix can also be viewed as a another preview of what SPOX-PhD will bring to the table sometime in, hopefully, a not to distant future (the MC/DJ constellation between OX and Spinna). This is followed by another "Formula 99" remix; "Rhyme 4 Rhyme" flips the beat to an up-tempo funk driven monster where DJ Format arrange a large group of instruments, including horns and guitar, and breakdowns that once again comes off as something of a tribute to the late '80s sound of hip-hop; when funky instrumentals that could get a party going, turntables and battle lyricism was the focus. As mentioned earlier, the two sides of the record really sound like two sides of the same coin, and the A-side is undoubtedly the more uptempo, groove-driven, funk record sampling, party starting side.

So far so good - I'm really impressed by this EP by this point, let's just hope that the B-side holds up, right? Well, let me tell you; it's the four tracks on the B-side that REALLY knocked me straight out. For one thing, all of the songs here are new Soundsci tracks, rather than remixes, and if you don't nod your head once you drop the needle on "The Vow" you might as well go look for another genre, because hip-hop isn't for you. The Process smacking rhythm section is just hard knock, while the musical parts are more melodic (a beautiful female voice wailing is heard throughout and forms a large chunk of the song), creating a nice counterpoint to the production. The rhyme trio absolutely kills it too, paying homage to where they came from and recognizing their underground roots and loyal fan base. The vow is to never forget that they will always represent the movement no matter what. Audessey kick things off lovely with a memorable verse, ("I never abuse it, mislead but use it, as a tool to school the fools and apply the golden rule/ Never seek your hand out, I'ma give it my all/ I take my bumps and bruises, staying tall up when I fall/ I keep it eye to eye, and honest in all moments/ I make my raps dope and produce my beats fatter...") which is followed by an equally hot verse from UGeorge. In fact all verses on this EP are really something, the chemistry between this trio is just something else which is why I consider them the best independent act right now. "The Vow" is one of the best Soundsci songs I have ever heard, from the layered production, the amount of quotables, and I also got to give credit for the hook, because a lot of underground emcees that rhyme tight as hell have no clue how to put together a song - Soundsci has proven time and time again that they are not only great rappers and producers but that they make complete songs, period. The same could be said for "Bon Appetit" which follows a somewhat similiar pattern; the production is steadily progressive, far from a simple loop you got the occassional guitar riff popping up, you got the female chant at the end of every bar, intense drum rolls and a breakdown of the beat to separate the hook and verses. Here the entire trio is heard too, something we never got to hear on "Formula 99" but the few times it happens on this EP, it really gives an impression of how well these guys play off each other's styles. 

"Lyrical Beatdown" was released as a single about a month or so ago and had many, myself included, very hyped for the new release. This is one of them heavy joints with relatively slow but extremely hard drums courtesy of The Process, but it also has a softer quality which comes in the form of a smooth guitar riff which adds a blues feeling to the track. Once again the use of layered production without sounding cluttered seems to be one of Cuba's and Teeba's most accomplished feats, and I hope these releases will give them a lot of outside offers for production. The final cut is called "Plight Of The Underdog" and is another A+ cut with a message to keep strivin' and not lose motivation no matter what people or even yourself might say sometime, something I, and many with me, definitely can relate to. I love how Oxygen's verse starts off over only the somber piano riff and a bassline, constantly building up tension so that when the beat finally drops it's like a rush coming over you; "Momma ain't raised no quitter, but I swear if I don't catch a wind soon I might reconsider/ You've seen my last update on Twitter, the red Oxygen is done with this rap shit, got a lot of y'all bitter/ I love my 21 followers and back in the days rocking mics was more powerful than the dollar was...". Just like in movies, tension and release is a great way to build up anticipation to create a pleasant (or scary) effect once the release comes; this is something I always felt should be used more in hip-hop music and as heard here, it has great effect on the listener. With piano, a looped background vocal, turntables, electric bass, boom bap drums, and even the occassional trumpet, the producers creates an hypnotic feeling that rides perfectly under the two vocalists. As I just mentioned, there's a lot going on here production wise, but never so much that it distracts from listening to the vocals, which is telling both of how well balanced and melticiously planned/produced the music is as well as the fact that Oxygen, UGeorge and Audessey's vocal performances are hypnotic on their own. It's a great closer to a great EP, one that will likely encourage yourself to flip the script and give it another front-to-back listen. 
The Conclusion
Being well familiar with the music of Soundsci, I had no hesitation in pre-ordering the EP without having heard any snippets or likewise as I without a doubt expected another dope release. Even then I was suprised by how absolutely terrific this release actually is. Especially when I for the first time threw on the B-side, I could pretty much only shake my head in disbelief; I'd go as far as saying that the best songs on this EP are also the finest tracks Soundsci has yet released. The DJ Spinna remix of "Ill Dialect" is another personal favorite, and one that got me even more hyped for that forthcoming SPOX-PhD album. "The Ultimate" is short, with only 5 new songs and a couple of remixes, but when adding more tracks to a product of this quality, you always risk breaking up the flow of the record - especially as the 8 tracks here really have a certain flow together and gives the overall impression of completion. In conclusion, Soundsci has once again proven why they are one of the absolute most interesting crew in hip-hop today, and with that being said this might be the group's most well-rounded effort today. If you love hard, sample based beats and the finest in lyricism I strongly recommend purchasing this on wax, and if you don't fuck with vinyl, pay the few dollars it costs to purchase the digital copy and support the cause.


  1. great write up ! I agree with you that the EP is hella dope. Glad I copped the vinyl.

  2. The first MC in "the Vow" remember a piece of El Da Sensei and a pece of Jeru the Damaja. Dope group, i'll search some other work...

  3. Yo Claaa, This is Jonny Cuba from Soundsci. Thanks for the review it was a very interesting read from my point of view, I can only speak for myself but agree that it's all about the B side for me. There is a flow & depth that I've not managed to achieve on a side before.

    A couple of corrections though ;)

    It is in fact Audessey who kicks off 'The Vow' followed by Ox then Ugeorge. I produced 'Bon Apetit' while DJ Ollie Teeba produced 'Lyrical Beatdown'. We both as 'The Process' produced POTU.

    I have spent many evenings in deep reflection listening to Spinna's Ill Dialect remix a killer remix & I have to show love to Format too for livening up the dancefloor with his 'Rhyme 4 Rhyme' remix...



  4. I cant champion this crew enuff, like their website says reminds you why you fell in love with hip hop

  5. Jonny Cuba:
    I'm very glad you took time to read and enjoyed the review. the EP is in daily rotation for me, you guys really knocked it out with this one and i can't wait to see what you cook up next.

    thanks for the corrections as well, i'm usually able to tell the three emcees apart so don't know how i mixed up A and UGeorge. but i wasn't too sure about the production since it's not listed on the label but i love all the info around the records like that so that's real nice to know.

    keep banging out dope music man!