Feb 22, 2008 - 9:41 PM
The album begins with the banging title track which introduces listeners to Lo’s off-the-wall, lyrical style over a screaming, soulful beat filled with vocal clips. Off of this momentum, the next track, “Born & Raised” comes in, touring the listener through his hometown of Pontiac, Michigan. At this point, the album takes a dive. The mid section of this album has a monotonous sound, despite enlisting praised producers such as Jake One, Vitamin D, Bean One and Memo of the Molemen. Each does have some flare to them, but it’s the same high vocal chop and brash hip hop drum loop. It’s nice to see Lo ditching the soul beats for something a little more “street,” but the production doesn’t grab me enough to keep me listening. It’s not until the last four tracks that the album regains my interest.
On “Snap Shot,” Lo rides a jazzy, laid back track where he brilliantly lays a one verse ode to a female. “G Gap” narrates the plight of the inner-city, echoing: “That’s why they want to see you dead or in jail.” Soon “Gray,” the crowning jewel of this album, comes in. With a vocal sample reminiscent of A Tribe Called Quest’s “Get a Hold,” One Be Lo discusses racial tension through stories of a young man slain to a mulatto girl trying to find her place. When the saxophone makes its way through the track, I'm reminded of the jazzy and introspective album I wanted, with a consistent sound throughout. The albums closes with “Hip Hop Heaven,” where Lo spits over a crazy beat that’s akin to “Rocketship” off of S.O.N.O.G.R.A.M. The vinyl scratches add a nice touch to what sounds like a slow tempo electronica/videogame beat. As “Hip Hop Heaven” fades out, a b-boy jam parades through as Lo reps the “Massive Monkees.” It’s nice to see that he still recognizes the true essence of what hip hop once was.
I really wanted to love this album but due to its length (only twelve tracks Lo?) and its similar sound, I was left a bit disappointed. That being said, One Be Lo is a gifted emcee and I’m sure he’ll continue to release worthwhile and thought-provoking music.
To hear samples of The R.E.B.I.R.T.H, visit One Be Lo's MySpace page at: http://www.myspace.com/onebelo.
Aaron Williams is a freshman at San Francisco State University and freelance contributor to Oh Dang!