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A Plus: My Last Good Deed

By Mike Gadd

May 10, 2007 - 3:31 PM



 

My Last Good Deed is A Plus’ first solo album. I had no idea. After all, he’s been in the biz for what, going on 15 years now? I was in middle school when I heard '93 Til Infinity. I guess I figured he’d released something a few years back that I missed out on. (Admittedly, I stopped checking for Hiero, save Casual, after Trilogy.) But still, it’s about damn time A Plus dropped his own LP. So a quick recap if you're unfamiliar: A Plus is one-fourth of the Oakland-based Souls of Mischief rap quartet and is an OG member of the Hieroglyphics crew. He flexes his muscle on the mic, on wax, and behind the boards, and actually does all three quite well. He’s a modern-day rap renaissance man.

A Plus handles the majority of the production on My Last Good Deed along with partner AAGGEE (together they form Compound 7), though Jake One, Quincy Tones, and J-Zone provide a beat apiece. While heavily synthesized, the album’s 17 tracks maintain an animate air with enough variety to make the LP interesting and enough similarity to provide a sense of cohesiveness. Two of the highlights, "A Beautiful Thing" and "What's Hannin,'" sound nothing alike, but allow A Plus to show off his skill-set over both soaring synths and slow-motion slump. The dexterous dialogue nestled between tracks also helps the album's flow.

But what doesn't help My Last Good Deed is the lack of anything spectacular. There is no sure-shot single – all the songs are pretty decent. There's no beat worthy of a pass-the-headphones, "Ooh shit, listen to this" – the production is solid and tolerable, but never terrific. And the metaphors are meager and the punchlines weak; the raps rhyme and the sentences are complete, but that's about it. In short: The beats? Good. The raps? Good. The result? An album that’s...well...good.

But it's not good. My Last Good Deed is not a motivating release that encourages you to hit repeat after the disc has stopped spinning. There's nothing urging me to give A Plus another go round. No "what did that line mean?" or "what sample was that?" Even worse, not even an "I liked that a lot, I think I'll listen to it again." My Last Good Deed was enjoyable from start to finish, but it's likely another case of from-CD-player-to-CD-shelf, never to be seen again.

So I guess by saying My Last Good Deed is good, I really mean it's just thoroughly average. But while nothing moves beyond mediocrity, maybe that's not totally a bad thing. After all, nothing sub-par has slipped by, either. And in a time when the term "album" has taken new meaning, (as in "three good songs released along with 17 shitty ones") hardcore Hiero heads will probably praise this as a breath of fresh air.

**

Mike Gadd is a regular contributor to Okayplayer.com. Visit his blog, Right On, Write On for more sound advice.

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