Record label: Hieroglyphics Imperium
Format: 2xLP/CD
Year of Release: late 2001

When you think of the Hieroglyphics crew, you think of some of the most abstract innovators in hip-hop. Including Del (the mainstay) and others such as Souls of Mischief, Casual, Prose, and Pep Love, the Heiros have been somewhat synomous with left-of-center styles and lyricism. Pep Love's first joint proves to be a dope premiere to this Heiro crewmember's solo career. The album is a message in life and peace. Pep's delivery is smooth as he talks about beautiful days, hustling, pride, and choices.

A+ and Casual are the main producers, blending the grime and grit with a little West Coast relaxation. Pep Love starts the album off with an announcement of his skills on "Grime and Grit." "Living Is Beautiful" has Pep going over the beauty of life. His choppy cadence bounces beautifully on every track. "T.A.M.I." is one of the dopest cuts on the album. As Pep Love talks about true love, his ability to bring clarity to the emotion of past memories is his strength as an emcee. You feel his anger, rage, and energy as he recounts the regrets. In an age where the most abstract material is getting the critical acclaim, Pep steps to you with classic straight up hard rhyming. Even though much of his material is less then raw, his powerful voice and rapid-scatter delivery command attention. Especially on songs like "The Grind" and "Karma (The Snake Charmer)" Pep rattles you, firing at all angles. "Different," "The Grind," and "Black People" show the rawness of the Heiro native. Domino, Evidence, Mako, and Lex round out the production. Paying homage to his West Coast roots in Pacific Heights, Pep breaks down the beauty from the bay up into Canada. Ascension truly is a showcase of Pep's versatility. At times the production gets a little redundant, with a very mellow mood. Still the album is tight and both Pep and the music make a dope blend of conscious, positive hip-hop. Very few albums out are truly giving respect to the idea of a true emcee. Pep offers lyricism, consciousness, style and delivery. He shines best with the heavier concepts such as "Karma" and "Us."

{mikal lee (hired gun)}

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