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Although this is just their third album in 10 years, the Freestyle Fellowship wields an almost mythological power over MCs and hip-hop fans in L.A. and beyond. Their recorded output has hinted at their importance and relevance, rather than chronicled it. Temptations adds nothing more to any attempted unraveling of this urban mythology; rather it muddies the waters further. Lacking the improvisational jazz energy of Inner City Griots , Temptations comes off as more cynical, the members reveling in their own legend without revealing all the qualities that would justify it. The lyrical prowess of Aceyalone, Mikah Nine, Self-Jupiter and P.E.A.C.E is still evident. But they are severely let down by weakly production. Thinly constructed tracks leave their rhymes sounding hollow. There are a few exceptions to this rule. An elastic bass line adds resonance to "No Hooks No Chorus" while a haunting atmosphere provides the backdrop for a tale of bittersweet love on "Fragrance." At the other extreme, the crudeness of "Sex In The City," which retains little trace of irony, suggests our beloved hip-hop superheroes have fallen prey to the kryptonite that LA breeds; in their own words, “by the time LA’s done with you, you’re gonna have contacts for eyes and fake titties.” Far from the defining hip-hop statement one would expect and hope for from the Fellowship, Temptations is a question mark of an album.
I grew up listening to mainstream '70s rock then ended up on the staff at the college paper at San Diego State, and volunteered to review heavy metal LPs. My second semester, the music editor dropped a Fenton Robinson LP on my desk, Night Flight. You like metal; they play guitar--he plays guitar, the editor told me
I grew up listening to mainstream '70s rock then ended up on the staff at the college paper at San Diego State, and volunteered to review heavy metal LPs. My second semester, the music editor dropped a Fenton Robinson LP on my desk, Night Flight. You like metal; they play guitar--he plays guitar, the editor told me. If we don't run a review, Alligator Records is going to stop servicing us.
Night Flight opened up a whole new world for me--the blues led me, inevitably, to Basie, who led to Duke, who led to Mingus, who led to Miles, who led to ...