Common Man's Anthems
label: Uncommon

production: Nasa, ArcSin, El-P.

guests: Aesop Rock, Masai Bey, Karniege, Rob Sonic.
year of release: 2005
Martyr Rock
The Common Man
Members Only
Cannon Fodder
Zenith Mountain
Turbo Connection
Pink Noise feat. Rob Sonic
Counter Culture
G Is For Gold
12. Nuclear Five feat. Aesop Rock, Masai Bey, Karniege
13. Bulletproof
14. Lighthouse
  Members Only
Now, considering that the best song on this album was previously released and that one of the most enjoyable entities on this record is a skit, it sounds like this record properly sucks. But no: on top of a really good record, we also get a chance to revisit a great song and we get a hilarious skit.
The song in question is "Members Only", previously released on the EP "Members Only". Lyrically this certainly fits into the spice rack of the other songs, but it's really the Nasa beat that stands out. There's just something in that ladder synthy bubble that's very dope. It can get a little repetitive after a while, but usually around that moment, the chorus comes in and some atmospheric layers add a little something. Now add really driven drums and you got a serious banger. As for the skit in question: it's called "G Is For Gold" and it's quite a bit nerdy and you might must know a little bit about the elements of chemistry, that chart and alchemy to really find this to be funny. But those smart people will find a good couple of chuckles in here.
Other than that there's also an El-P beat somewhere on this album. But the fact that it does not stand out as such either means that Nasa adapted well to El's formula, or that The Presence picked a beat that fits well amongst their own, or that the beat is not necessarily as stand out beat. Actually you will be able to find El's beat, cause once "Turbo Connection" comes on, there's just a whole lot El-P about it. On "Casualties" we get a beat by ArcSin. And if you're familiar with Arc's offerings - and if you're not, do yourself a favor and make yourself familiar with 'em - you know what to expect: dramatic and haunted tones, whining synthesizer chords and heavy crashing drums.
But Nasa is not overshadowed by them two towering producers. With "Thriller" (including it's slow progression and movie score buttons pushing), with "Lighthouse" (a somewhat untypical as kinda sweet beat) or with "Zenith Mountain," Nasa adds three more excellent beats to the tracklist. There's of course also some not-so-hot offerings (then again why 'of course'?): both "Bulletproof" and "Nuclear Five" could be better. The latter however will still attract your attention, as this is a collaborative effort: Nasa and Cirrus team up with Aesop Rock, Masai Bey and Karniege to talk about how there used to be only five countries with nuclear weapons and how they got veto right at the security council and stuff like that.
And giving you that quick and rough abstract of the song, allows us to expand it a slight little bit and make it to be a quick and rough abstract of the whole album. Cause on the lyrical tip, The Presence are people with an agenda. Not so much as to welcome you amongst their midst, but to speak their conscience. Them are cats that are not just complaining about the war or the prize of gas, these are cats that could explain to you why the one happened and why gas is so expensive. And it's not Venezuela's or moose in Alaska's fault. It might have more to do with consumerism and SUVs and you can hear so on "Turbo Connection" and more on "Counter Culture." Heck, it becomes evident rather quickly that these guys are kinda fed up and so if you're one happy flower picking hippy, this might not be for you. Part of the quality of The Presence is that they do wrap their message in a more or less fancy way of reciting it, but still spit their lines rather straight. And not too off beat. But they cannot rhyme on beat. Listen to the marching "The Common Man" and you want to be a off rebel too, even if you end up not having a lot of positive things to say about the world.
But see, the chance is that you are rather common too. It's unlikely that you're one of those Wrestling characters that the mainstream rappers are portraying. Chances are that every now and then you're using public transportation and you have a headache when you fill out the tax report. Not because of the huge numbers you have to fill in, but because you cannot afford to hire an accountant to do the filing for you. Thus this is your music and The Presence represent you with a well conceived and good sounding album.
review: tadah
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