In 1990’s Freestyle Fellowship’s classic albums To Whom It May Concern and Innercity Griots exposed the world to Cali’s premiere style technicians. With flows reminiscent of Coltrane and Miles horn magic, their style is at once as earthy and pragmatic as it is metaphysical and transcendent.
Their music has been instrumental in the development of many Hip-Hop artists and of rap itself. From their inception Freestyle Fellowship has been a driving force of creativity and innovation. In fact, on To Whom It May Concern the Fellowship intoned: “we will never fall the fuck off we promise.”
Now, in fulfillment of that statement, Freestyle Fellowship has brought us The Promise . My first reaction to which was, “Hell yes! At last!” While this is no To Whom It May Concern (in my option a perfect album) it does deliver aural treats directly to your ear hole.
Many of today rappers can barely be bothered with articulating their words and mumble through trite verses about worn out subjects. The Fellowship, however, is the benchmark example of Rap as art, rigorous discipline, and energy. With their monk like focus on cadence, structure, and delivery pattern, their flair for the abstract and dramatic, The Promise makes for an enjoyable and interesting listen.
While the flows of Aceyalone, Myka 9, Self Jupiter, and P.E.A.C.E. remain on the cutting edge, some of the production although solid throughout, could use some evolution. Imagine if you will a Fellowship album produced by Flying Lotus, Paul White, or J Dilla. Just imagine that! There are a few instance where the lyrical content and conception are not up to the high standards that the Fellowship themselves created, however this is still head and shoulders above many rap albums out now. Keep real Rap alive and go buy The Promise via Amazon