Record Review: LMNO + Theory Hazit, Determined to Fly

Record Review: LMNO + Theory Hazit, Determined to Fly

The Hype:
Here we go, the fifth installment of LMNO's 10-albums-in-2010 campaign--otherwise known as Push That Work. Testing his endurance midway through this project is something most of his fans ought to be curious about at this point on his new release, Determined to Fly. Teaming up with Cincinnati's sample savvy producer /DJ/MC Theory Hazit, the Long Beach rhyme slinger doesn't plan on folding his wings anytime soon. He did save himself a flight to Ohio, opting to continue trading beats and verses via Internet instead, hoping to find old-school chemistry using 21st century tools. 

The Judgment

: LMNO and Theory Hazit have never met face to face. It's not exactly a shocker when you hear some of the disconnected lyrical brush strokes on their recent collaboration,

Determined to Fly

. Despite their connection through the bonds of audio file sharing, the early rhymes on the album don't seem to share a common theme or chemistry. Showcasing a minimalist, loop-driven backdrop of underground beats, album opener "Time to Run"  really does sound like two dudes blindly spitting verses at one another. The result on most of the album is a track list filled with some impressive freestyles, but few actual songs. 

Individually, both MCs dole out some signature lyrical tongue lashings, drawing on their  distaste for wack-ass rappers, their respect for hip-hop history and a knack for metaphoric braggadocio. For those on the West Coast ignorant to the deft delivery of Theory, "Party People" is a prime example of the sharp wit harnessed by this jack-of-all-trades. But there's little space left to give the overall a signature stamp, a hook, anything other than endless raps.

The album finally starts to take flight around the album's seventh track, "Money" in which the two MC's finally team up to tackle the subject of hustling and paper chasing. The lyrics slice through a rising tide of hand claps, a teased out sample of Parliament's "Atomic Dog" and the soulful vocal runs of Suzi Analogue. If nothing else, it's good to hear two credible, underground artists be real about the concept that have your mind on your money isn't a sin.

Despite a rocky beginning, the album ends strong with three more songs--yes, actual songs--including the album's title track, exhibiting some dark, synth-funk movements as LMNO ponders the wicked ways of the world and his struggle to keep the faith and maintain sanity. Theory adds an equally intricate verse that helps the track take off and become the climax of the album. Unfortunately, the overall product doesn't soar quite as high.

Grade: B-

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