Stone Soup
Record label: Third Earth
Format: 2xLP/CD
Release date: 19 February 2002

In 2000 a small crew came together and put out one of the hottest singles in the past couple of years: "7/Liberty." Mastermind's first album The Underground Railroad was a testament to old school b-boyism and roots hip-hop. While obvious talent was showcased from Epod, Kimani, and Oracle, the album had flaws consistent with a debut. It's clear though that Stone Soup, their second LP, is a giant step up from a solid debut. The duo has grown and matured since last we heard from them. More in tune with the world around them, Kimani and Oracle expand on 9/11, the state of the black community, the music industry, and life in general. Production wise it is a total 180 from the classic boom bap of Underground Railroad, coming together with a muddier heavier sound. Heavy reggae and rock riffs fall throughout Stone Soup. As Kimani states in "3rd Movement," "This is Afro Rock for your mind, body, spirit, and soul."

Both Kimani and Oracle represent a very simple yet effective style. The delivery and serious content are what make this so dope. On "2 moms" both emcees go in separate directions as Kimani recounts the strong mother figure, role model, and friend that guided him, thanking her for her presence. Oracle breaks down the tale of a young slave boy and the sacrifice he makes to save his mother. Heady stuff on any album, let alone a new school independent release. So much of hip-hop has only scratched the surface of its artistic power, Stone Soup follows in the tradition of conscious emcees communicating and bringing a positive message. "September in New York" is a reminder that despite the tragedy life goes on, both good and bad. Murs is the only guest (a very big positive - it seems heads can't carry a whole album anymore) as he teams up on "Step By Step," which is probably the weakest track. Don't worry, though - Murs reps on Mr. Len's Pity the Fool and Def Jux Compilation 2. "Raiders of the Lost Art," "Fairy Tales," "Subliminal" and "3rd Movement" are a true testament of the newer raw conscious sound that they bring to the table. As far as a solid album, one that has a unifying feel, dope production, and intelligent lyrics, Stone Soup is it.

{mikal lee (hired gun)}

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