The Waiting Room
label: Shamanwork

production: Aloe Blacc, DJ Excile

year of release: 2005
website: emanonhiphop.com
1.
Count Your Blessings
2.
The Words
3.
More Than You Know
4.
Pseudo
5.
Make Music
6.
The World Don't Sing
7.
Politician
8.
The Waiting Room
9.
Four Square
10.
A Story
11.
Ahh Ouai
12.
Not What It Seems
13. Six Million Ways
14. She Thinks
15. Farewell
  The Waiting Room
You might remember Aloe Blacc and DJ Exile from MTV's "The Cut." Or you may have heard their dope third installment of the Earplug series. Now they return with their first full-length album and, lets just let the cat out the bag right away: it's pretty damn good.
The album opens with "Count Your Blessings". The nice and slightly reggae/dub influenced beat has Aloe flexing his skills with playfulness and ease. And after just one song we can already tell that this emcee has a few tricks up his sleeve. "The Words", a well-crafted and mellow guitar driven piece of music, has Aloe proving that besides raw mic skills, he packs some serious lyrical heat. But this is also the track where we first notice something that doesn't always work: Aloe's singing. While he did a good job singing the hook on the opening track, the hook on this song is slightly off key. And while some people have succeeded in making good music with dissonance and weird harmonies, this just doesn't work. It doesn't completely ruin an otherwise dope track but still has us fearing what might come next.
What does come next though, is not bad at all. On the appropriately titled "Pseudo" we get an Aloe Blacc in battle mode. He aims his canon at all the pseudo-rappers, -parents and -thugs out there:
"answer me this: what's the point of poppin' the gats / all up in your raps, when on the streets you ain't even scrap / answer me this: why you gotta spit about drugs / slangin' in your rhymes, we know you're lying, you ain't a thug/ answer me this: you came up cause you homie was signed / so why you trying to act like you bust raps, you cant rhyme/ you're a pseudo".
"Four Square", "The Waiting Room" and "Not What It Seems" are all great and have a similar sunday-morning feel to them.
Almost everything on here is produced by Exile and emceed by Aloe. But they do turn the tables on a few occasions. There is the Aloe produced "More Than You Know", that is good but again has some less than good singing. And there is "Six Million Ways" where Exile steps to the mic, over a nice beat that undoubtedly will have you humming the piano of Slick Rick's "Sitting In The Park". These tracks are both enjoyable but it's obvious that Exile can't match Aloes subtle yet highly impressive rhyme style just as Aloe's beats are not on par with the soulful and relaxed production of DJ Exile. The combination of Aloe's verses over Exiles beats is just a perfect match, so there is really no reason to change that.
There are also a few tracks where Aloe the emcee steps down completely to give Aloe the singer some shine. For instance "She Thinks" and "Farewell", where he sings his heart out. He does stretch his voice to the very edge on the high notes and does struggle to stay on key at times. But these tracks actually work well. And that is largely due to Exile's production. Cause while Aloe's skills have indeed caught our attention, what Exile brings to the table does in no way hold this album back. At first you may find his production kinda anonymous, but given time to unfold the great care he put into these beats becomes evident.
Actually this is one of those albums that might slip through your fingers if you don't give it your full attention. Give it just that and you will see this album grow into a tantalizing entity. There is a few misses though. "Ahh Ouai" is an attempt at something different, but ends up playing like a skit cause we never really catch the groove. And "The World Don't Sing" is not really bad, but Aloe's singing skills are simply not enough to hold up a track when Exile doesn't provide his usual support.
So we get very well crafted and at times even beautiful beats. We get an emcee that is not only extremely talented, but also shows mastery of a variety of different rhyme styles. And we get the incredible chemistry between the two.
In fact this album is much like some good weed. You might have to remove a few seeds for maximum enjoyment. And if you take a quick pull and exhale right away it might have you go "nahh...it ain't all that". But if you inhale deeply and hold your breath to allow all the good stuff to seep into your bloodstream, you will realize how potent this stuff really is.
review: Jonezz
   
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