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February 21, 2006

{     Blueprint - 1988     }    

blueprint.jpg There's something to be said for pleasant surprises. Like those records that catch your world-weary, know-it-all ass sleeping and deliver a Big John Studd-style boot straight to your grill. Ya know... the defiant ones that overcome your precious preconceived notions to really make you feel like an asshole and force you to apologize to your friends for dissing it in the first place. Blueprint is one of those Columbus staples that I've been seeing first-at, then-in, area hip-hop shows for the last decade or so (word to the Groove Shack). And while its always been the voice that got you hooked, it was the science that often fell short of Newton, earning him the gong on more than a few occasions. And it was these early experiences, combined with a few other popular excuses floating around (RJ made Soul Position, so-and-so from Weightless is really bringing the "Midwestern Funk", he's just riding the Orphanage's coat tails, he's got a big fucking head) that all led the majority to catch some Z's while Printmatic steadily perfected his style, paid some dues, and now come correct on his Rhymesayers solo debut. What you say Hammer? Proper. With a title like 1988, its pretty obvious that the good ol' boom bap is what's in store, and Print does his finest both in the booth and on the boards to honor the much bally-hooed "double ocho". Nonprophets' "Hope" will undoubtedly spring to mind with its similar golden age-inspired sensibilities and true-school leanings, but while Sage's Nine references and "Times Up" quotables are delivered with a knowing smirk, Blueprint seems more natural and at ease with his time-travelling freshness. Print's newfound "dirty break shit" production steez should have him blowing up like Dig-Dug as he effectively hits upon classic highpoints while simultaneously adding in a few special herbs of his own to spice up the recipe. Taste the flavor as 88 updates Kool G's "Road the Riches" on "Big Girls" and flips Main Source lovely on the Aesop-laced "Lo-Fi Funk". Homeboy even throws in a little beatboxing on "Fresh" that's fortunately more Doug E Fresh than Justin Timberlake (damn, it sucks you even have to say that now). Lyrically, Blueprint brings an ambitious bag of styles to the table with overall successful results. With his trademark high-pitch Poindexter delivery, 1988 is most successful when Print keeps his subjects simple. Braggadacio joints like "Anything Is Possible" and "1988" as wells as the light-hearted jokey jams "Big Girls Need Love, Too" and "Where’s Your Girlfriend At?" hardly break any new ground theme-wise, but allow the MC to ease back and clown a little with some clever wordplay. This also rings true of the album's choice cut, the jaw-dropper "Boombox" where Blue waxes poetic about his ghetto blaster over an ill guitar loop and some ace Do the Right Thing samples (what else? Word to Danny Aiello). Sprinkled through 1988's mathematics are integrated asides referencing classics of this bygone era (EPMD, BDP, a more Flavor-savory PE) that function assuredly within the context/structure of the song without seeming so damn winky-winky nudgey-nudgey. But while this overlooked gem is among the top of its class in 2005, the album is not without its flaws. Most noticeably is the sequencing of the album which attempts to juggle such a variety pack of styles by anchoring the tail-end with the album's only two overtly political manifesto jams. While effective on their own terms, these heavy-handed soapboxers seem somewhat out of place following tirades about radios and fat girls, leaving the album somewhat disjointed and unbalanced. And while Blueprint has come a long way on the M.I.C., not every style he attempts has a result that matches its ambition. So while it may have been slept-on during its initial release (thanks to Edan), 1988's quality beats and rhymes have endured long enough for fans to take notice and rank it among the year's best... while this author is left to dust off the Dunce cap and head to a corner.

     » Rhymesayers Entertainment


Meant to publish this a few weeks ago but my computer scraped its knee.

RIP to J Dilla and Harold Hunter.

Posted by: Eric at February 21, 2006 1:13 AM
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