Deus Ex Machina
label: dump truck
production: dj obi
guests: cosmic truckaz, existereo, akuma, 50 cal, black silver.
year of release: 2004
1. The Awakening
2. Narcotix
3. Andy Warhol
4. Darwin's Folly
5. Scientific Colleagues feat. Cosmic Truckaz
6. No Restraints
7. Deus Ex Machina feat. Existereo, Akuma
8. Metamorphosis
9. Pipe Dreams
10. Trouble Magnet feat. 50 Cal
11. Ups & Downs
12. Breaking Loose feat. Black Silver
13. Even Angels Fall
14. Soapbox Prophet
15. Day Dream Time Machine
16. Nowhere Fast
17. Foolish Mortals
18. In The End
In their own circle, Avatar and DJ Obi teaming up is like Snoop doing an album with Dr. Dre. Both constantly getting more successful and attention garnering, the two teaming up is a step that makes sense for both of 'em. And not just stylistically. It allows Avatar to focus on the rhymes, while on his last album "Double Negative Pt. 1 : For Lack Of A Better World" he also did the production.
The content of the rhymes is where Avatar is the strongest. While he at times struggles to put the right amount of syllables in each line, he really shines with clever little quotes and because he dares to address uncomfortable topics. And while there was a certain despair on the last album, here Avatar is mainly pissed off.
Why? Well, for once because he's facing so many people that he'd like to punch in the face and if not that: at least give a good spankin'. This disgust for so many people shows on "Darwin's Folly" where he asks the reasonable question of why there's no requirements for people before they are allowed to procreate. What sounds rather brash, and often is brash, the last verse also features a little humor. The conclusion to the song however still is that "we should build more abortion clinics. A statement that will make him oh so popular with the American Taliban, i.e. the current elected Administration and their Christian Right Wing shadows.
A certain depression can still be felt though, like when Avatar talks about a past and how he finds 'this is no way to live' on "Pipe Dreams." A song that also openly talks about the grip of addiction. Yes, life is full of "Ups & Downs", a rather philosophical offering over a nice Obi beat. Avatar's best lyrical moment comes on "Day Dream Time Machine" though, where he says things like: "finally got an audience but now I am at a lost for words/ stating the obvious is no job for a philosopher." The great piano line adds more to the hunted and haunted vibe of the song.
The production by Obi is a serious and massive step forward in the right direction. He now found the right balance of bounce and grit on a "No Restraints", a song that Avatar uses to diss people. This is a completely different vibe to the rather underproduced, too live instrument-ish and not that glorious "Metamorphosis" and "Trouble Magnet", or to the dense and thus excellent title track "Deus Ex Machina". The emcees - i.e. Avatar, Existereo and Akuma of The Shapeshifters - ponder: "I think my computer can tell if I touch it/ I wonder what that shit would do if I'd fuckin' punched it," while Obi adds many layers of music and growling over a really interesting percussion sample.
Obi also takes us a couple of years back with the style of "Breaking Loose," while he achieves to make the instruments sound excellent on "Even Angels Fall", a song that gives Avatar another chance to question his surroundings. "Soupbox Prophet" and "Nowhere Fast" take a lot of hints from other producers and the guitar on "Foolish Mortals" sounds kinda familiar too. But Obi adds to it a lot of other sounds, creating an interesting and well done beat with more gaps than actual consistency.
It's fair to say that Avatar is not the happiest person on this planet. He can be happy with this release though. It cannot have been easy to do it and it's not easy to digest. Both the unapologetic lyrics and the rugged landscapes of Obi's beats. However, with both of these elements, "Deus Ex Machina" fits into the big picture of all Los Angeles releases, with the two slowly but surely securing their place in the pantheon of what LA adds to the whole of this hip hop culture.
review: tadah
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