Lo Down

The Foundation (Ill-Type)

Bait
These days, it's rare that a hip-hop CD will have an "intro" that works. But simple as it might be, the opening track on Lo Down's debut, The Foundation, has a catchy beat and vocoder vocals that kick things off with a slightly retro, 2Pac-inspired sound. Rapper Marlo "Lo Down" Bloxson wrote all of the tracks on the 15-song album, and Ill-Type owner Gregory Morrison, a student at Kent State University, produced them. The samples Morrison and Bloxson choose suggest their influences -- they borrow beats from original hip-hop artists such as the Roots, Rah Digga, Mos Def, and Common.

Not afraid to slow things down for the groovy, jazz-oriented "Dough"; mimic Funkadelic on the overproduced "Megabyte"; or preach resistance with poetic eloquence in "The Revolution," a track that features guest appearances by local rapper Darque Phoenix, Bloxson doesn't adhere to just one style. Like the best rap artists, say Wyclef Jean or Prince Paul, Bloxson embraces a variety of sounds. The lazy beats in "Live It to the Limit" let Bloxson show off his rapping skills and flow. On occasion, he ends up in well-traveled territory -- in "Freak Hoz," he writes about loose, gold-digging women and fancy cars while a cacophony of discordant moans roars in the background. And then there's "Big Blunts," a harsh, DMX-meets-Bone Thugs tribute to smoking pot that has chest-thumping vocals and an insipid refrain. Two live songs, "Just Ice" and "Strategic," sound so rough and clunky next to the well-produced studio tracks, they're clearly out of place and disrupt the flow of what is an otherwise solid debut.

About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]
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