Fat Jon is “35,” a versatile producer and member of the crafty 5 Deez. J-Rawls is “82,” a distinguished MC and member of the up-and-coming Lone Catalysts. What the hell more could an underground hip hop head ask for?
How ’bout another collaboration to redeem these two masterminds’ first one? The Living Soul shows bursts of amazing art in some areas, yet it struggles to stay afloat a sea of mediocrity in others. Besides being utterly short (42 minutes), this album simply doesn’t flow well.
Tracks that come wack include “What Could Be,” begun by J-Rawls’ melodramatic-sounding intro. And the album ends anti-climactically with “Empty,” again overdosing on the softness. The kicked-back instrumentals are not at all the culprit (Fat Jon is essentially a watered down Pete Rock), but it’s J-Rawls’ delivery that doesn’t mesh with these softer beats. However, on more alive, hyped, up-tempo tracks, he’s money.
Tracks that flow like dough include the very short “2nd Person,” an 80-second sped-up, drum and bass-sounding ode to the duo. Also stellar and what I predict will be their next single, “Bad Form” is a classic J-Rawls “caper” track; it’s the only one that tells a story on this album, though. “Yesterday” is also a great cut, with good mixes by both 35 and 82.
A fresh feature besides the slick, green foldout CD case includes a section in the liner notes that tells you the inspiration for each work. Vinyl version excludes two CD bonus cuts, but includes ALL instrumentals, essential for DJs.