The Hype: For the average MC, dropping three full-length albums in one year is a feat worth celebrating. And with the release of rapper LMNO's latest album, Next In Line (digitally released today on Long Beach-based Up Above Records), we're sure he's celebrating, too.
The only problem: He still has seven more albums to drop in 2010 before the 10-album boom bap anthology he promised is finished. Now that we've reviewed the first two, we just can't stop. For better or worse, we're willing to stick with this Long Beach rhyme-slanger as he completes his quest, one album at a time.
The Judgment: At first glance, the title of LMNO's new album feels a bit obvious. Yeah, it's next in a long line of anticipated albums to come. But when you take a listen, you also realize that, besides his addiction to making huge track lists, he's also into rattling off all kinds of things in consecutive order: his favorite countries, DJs he likes, his favorite chapters in the Bible. It will make more sense when you hear songs like "Get Up," a summertime slice of West Coast sound peppered with his sage-like delivery of conscious rap. It ends with a cross-cultural shout-out to people in just about every country he can think of. The beat is cool, but be prepared for a geography lesson.
The album was produced by SoCal beat maker Dert, who's main claim to fame is that he produced KRS-One's entire 2006 album Life. LMNO also enlisted the turntable skills of LD--his go-to DJ, who brings a blizzard of technical skills on tracks like "No Jam, No DJ," which ends with another shout-out--this time it's addressed to '80s DJ legends like Afrika Bambaataa, Grand Wizard Theodore and many more.
As far as lyrics go, NIL mixes the rapper's powerful, personal stories with cliche stuff you've already heard a million times about how fake mainstream rappers can be, how we should respecting the DJ, never stop hustlin', etc.
However, what makes this album more than just another bag of finger-wagging rhymes are songs like "Resilient," which favor sharp beats and genuine glances into LMNO's past trials and tribulations. Splashed over a canvas of big beats and soulful sampling, you hear a tale of a young man engaging in a tug of war with the idea of worship and family life on "Graced By Grace" that steers clear of the stereotypically corny Christian rap trap--even though at one point he does take the time to list almost every chapter of the Bible throughout the song "Good Book."
NIL closes with "Innocence," a soulful and sentimental ode to the scraps of youth that you never forget--playing games of tag in the street, cruisin' on the Big Wheel, crank calls. Remember that shit? Good to see that after all the staccato flows and grisly street science, LMNO still knows how to send us off with a smile.
Download These: "Resilient," "Graced By Grace," "Innocence"