- reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2003 1 Jul
I've always considered the artist formerly known as Knowdaverbs as one articulate conversationalist. Ever since he first dropped on the scene in 1998 with his didactic debut,
That's only the lyrical side of things. For some reason, I always had some trouble connecting with the rhythmic aspect of Verbs's craft. The songs he culled with the aid of Incorporated Elements, his GRITS buddies, and other producers, were accomplished and fun, but for some reason they were never quite up-to-par with what you hear on R&B or hip-hop stations. They had the edge necessary to make a mark, but something—maybe the excessive lightheartedness or dark samples—was preventing it from rising above the status quo, and that carried over to how much his previous albums were embraced by the public at large.
Verbs seems to be taking a step in the right direction with
Equally hot is the first single, "What You Rock Now," a party jam that takes the biblical concept of "you reap what you sow" and dishes it out in an easygoing, head-nodding manner ready to blaze the airwaves (which it did already.) The always reliable boys from GRITS make a timely appearance alongside new Gotee signee Nirva (Dorsaint) on the track "Expensive," a song that is somewhat reminiscent, in essence, of the duo's own "Lovechild," especially when Bonafide spits his calculated rhymes over Ric Robbins's straightforward beat; as usual, Coffee shines by contributing a rapid-fire verse, with Nirva coming in on the hook, and Verbs inching not too far behind with a commendable verse that cleverly—yet politely—disses B2K.
Similar to "Equeena" or "Just the Facts, Ma'am" on previous Verbs albums, the theme of love and commitment is tackled in the Tony McAnany-produced "Love Triangle," a smooth song that starts off with a sweet, nylon-stringed guitar part and features a very catchy, familiar hook I can't quite put my finger on. The song offers words of wisdom from Verbs to both genders and specifically pinpoints the guys' tendency to be volatile in relationships, and addresses those girls who are quick to give their hearts away to males who aren't worthy of their love. Elsewhere, "She's Ms. Sin," with its bumpy beat, low-register piano notes, and an interesting screech sample, follows the same thematic pattern, this time with a lyric that focuses on Verbs and his frustrations with an overly dominating female.
Though many will consider this song a little cliché and after-the-fact, Verbs feels compelled to offer his own view of the 9/11 occurrences in the track "The Before and The After," a cut that, save from the monotonic bassline, is a capable track that features winning flamenco-styled guitar work and offers the most excellent line, "[many wish to] call back the safety that we might have taken for granite." But my favorite track is embodied in the tribal cut "Can You Hear Me?," a club banger that could very easily be mistaken for the work of uber-producers The Neptunes.
Liner notes perusers will be disappointed to find that
And therein lies the major flaw of this album. It's been put on the back burner for so long that one would expect the final product to be worthy of the hype. And in part it is, but, for
some reason, 43 minutes of music leaves me with the feeling that
Verbs has yet to release a definitive album, one that perfectly
captures the scope of his talent and that efficiently takes
advantage of the beat-making capabilities of others, thus
producing a memorable hip-hop effort.