label: fat beats

production: one.be.lo, decompoze

guests: abdus salaam, charmaine gibson, ka di, decompoze, magestik legend.
year of release: 2005
website: myspace.com/onebelo
the UNDERground
enecS eht no kcaB
Questions feat. Abdus Salaam & Charmaine Gibson
the Ghetto
sleepwalking feat. Ka Di
True Love feat. Decompoze
Used 2 Be Fly
14. Can't Get Enough feat. Magestik Legend
15. Assassinations
16. Evil Of Self feat. Abdus Salaam
17. the Future
18. E.T.
19. the capital IST
20. Rocketship
21. Unparalleled feat. Magestik Legend
22. Follow My Lead
  Can't Get Enough feat. Magestik Legend
One.Be.Lo is of course no one else but OneManArmy from the you-better-know Binary Star entity. Hailing from the outskirts of Detroit, also known as Pontiac, Michigan, he was half of who gave you "Master Of The Universe." But by the time that album dropped, Binary Star was defunct, and One.Be.Lo had to regroup, refocus and reclaim the game with his compilation album "Waterworld Too." Which was met with the critical appraisal of many, not the least these very pages. Teaming up with Fat Beats, "S.O.N.O.G.R.A.M." is O's first proper solo album though, showing that his name is bigger than his discography.
"S.O.N.O.G.R.A.M." stands for 'Sounds Of Nashid Originate Good Rhymes And Music' and is only one of the rather annoying and pseudo spellings on this record. Another is "enecS eht no kcaB" that you may struggle to find very impressively titled. The song itself is based on relaxed vibes while One muses about writing rhymes, about his rhymes and about the art in general. More creative spelling is on "the UNDERground" which talks about that level over one of the several underproduced beats (others are on "the Future" or "Follow My Lead"). Thematically it's related to "Propaganda" which is thematically about dissolving hypes and the machine behind it.
Musically we get a lot of traditional while reduced boom bap rap music that can only make a difference with extra clever lyrics. Not necessarily extra clever, but certainly heartfelt are the lyrics on "Oggie", where One speaks about a lost person to then proceed into what world he lives in. It's familiar water he treads and it's repeated on "the Ghetto". Thus the quality does not lie in newness, but in the effortless flow and the direct and honest way One's addressing the audience. Just shy of half into the album we get "True Love" feat. Decompoze where One speaks about a such one, over a good, sample based, and relaxed beat. Along with a "Deceptacons", these two beats definitely remember the pre-synthesizer production era.
Not all is solemn though, as "Axis" is much more positive in vibe and content, if we take that realizing a problem is the first step to solve it. One takes the time to just spit braggadocio verses on "Used 2 Be Fly", concentrating as much on the punchlines as the flow and how to construct the path to get there. A similar cadence he utilizes again for a much more message driven and good "Evil Of Self". "Unparalleled" is wrapped into a disco banger, even though One is not matching it with equally careless rhymes.
The best of all comes together on "Can't Get Enough", even though it takes its time to really get going. The beat is rolling, based on one looped sample, with the lyrics being observational, as much critical as positive and everything that's good about One.Be.Lo just wrapped into one.
Truly annoying the album only gets with the woman voice on "the UNDERground", "Questions" and "sleepwalking." And many samples were either previously used or just sound very familiar, like what's on "E.T." It'd also be easy to draw many names of artists out the hat that came before One and that pushed similar beat styles and music in general. One.Be.Lo thus does definitely not re-invent the wheel, he's not perfecting it neither. He's just very crafty at creating wheels, especially in these times where rectangles are put on cars and wagons.
review: tadah
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