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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews


  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2007 1 Aug
Sounds like … classic hip-hop in the vein of A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Jurassic 5, and Tunnel Rats.At a glance … it's not really a new album, yet Unleashed certainly feels like one as it captures L.A. Symphony's most memorable rarities and exclusives from over the years.Track Listing DL drop
Idle Time
All We Know
Universal (feat. Posdnus of Dela Soul)
Choc. City drop
Ball Bounces
I Speak
Love for the Art (feat. AWOL One)
Break It Down
Friday Night Flavas drop
Get Out the Van
Soul Bros.
Tour Bus
We Came from Beyond drop
Up Down
Girl, Interrupted
You Mash Up
Global Takeover

L.A. Symphony is not dead. Though life has certainly dealt them a few deathly blows over the years—blows so unfortunate, they would have brought under lesser, more inexperienced groups. So far, the conglomerate has been caught in legal entanglements with a former record label, lost three key members, teetered on the verge of bankruptcy, endured family deaths, and been afflicted with illness, among other things. They have every reason to have called it quits.

Though things may be awfully quiet in their camp of late, L.A. Symphony is alive and well. Unleashed, their first album since 2005's criminally under-the-radar Disappear Here, is a testament to their well-being. It's not really a new album, but it sure feels like one, as the acclaimed Los Angeles collective dusts off and gathers a number of unreleased songs, demos, rarities, and radio drops they've recorded in their decade-long career. And boy, what a treat it is.

Almost biographically, Unleashed traces L.A. Symphony's slow but steady rise from underground hopefuls to seasoned veterans. Even at a young age, the group displayed remarkable skill at the mic, dropping elaborate, well-versed abstractions over unadorned old-school backbeats ("DL drop," "Idle Time"). It's classic stuff, made all the more memorable by the outstanding, self-assured synergy between each member—yes, even former members Pigeon John, bTwice, and J-Beits, all of them present here.

But the unofficial "reunion" aspect isn't this anthology's main selling point. If anything, it's L.A. Symphony's desire to be all things to all people, shifting between Golden Era rhymesayers ("C.rap"), goofballs ("Tour Bus"), and manic street preachers ("Church") without missing a beat. Perhaps they never intended it, but this stylistic breadth surprisingly makes Unleashed their best album to date—equal parts mixtape, greatest hits, and treasure trove of exclusive gems. A must-own for fans and an ideal introduction for the uninitiated.

© Andree Farias, subject to licensing agreement with Christianity Today International. All rights reserved. Click for reprint information.