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Hard 2 Obtain: Ism & Blues

Album Notes

Hard 2 Obtain: Warren "Taste" Mason, Lorenzo "DL" Smith, Kevin "DJ Six Seven" Calhoun.

Additional personnel: Treydonya Jones, Nicoli Telemaque, Charle, Vinia Mojica (vocals); Miles Evans (horns); Sugarpop (keyboards); Anton Pukshansky, Jay Nichols, Daryl Jenifer (bass); Rockraider, D.J. Nastee (scratches).

Producers: D.J. Nastee, The Stimulated Dummies, G. Dajani, D. Ross, J. Gamble.

Recorded at Chung King Studios, New York, New York.

In early 1994, H2O caught fire with its smash backpacker single "LI Groove," a tune that affirmed through a Rakim sample that the trio represented "New York, from Long Island." On the strength of H20's newfound respect among hip-hop's cypher legions, H2O dropped Ism and Blues to explore three true loves: weed, women, and hip-hop. The album reflects this triple love affair, combining hazy funk and jazz echoes with a rapper's delight format. MCs Taste and DL are B-Boys in the traditional sense, playing off each other nicely with call and response rhymes. "LI Groove" may be H20's only real claim-to-fame track but Ism and Blues does contain a few other hidden highlights. The horn-heavy "Ghetto Diamond" is a fortified ode to beautiful women of a hip-hop persuasion and "Heels Without Souls" fuses hip-hop and the R&B-styled vocals of Vinia Mojica with some flair. A propensity towards repetitive rhymes bogs this album down slightly and, despite worthy efforts, in the end H2O is found to be overmatched in the hip-hop game. This largely slept-on album also features a guest appearance from New Jersey underground stalwarts the Artifacts. ~ M.F. DiBella


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