All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.
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.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.