Thursday, February 11, 2010
It's the Monsters That Gods Built
I always thought that if this album dropped in any other city it would have been a huge, huge hit. Likewise if it had dropped a couple years after its release. But in 2000, Seattle was still off the hip hop radar, and the Silent Lambs unfortunately were just too far ahead of their time.
The Silent Lambs Project (Jace and Blak) were the culmination of years of underground hip hop growth in the emerald city. You can hear their voices on the early Seattle compilations, over the grey, murky, rainy musical backdrop, but when they joined forces as Silent Lambs they took that bleak, damp atmosphere to a whole new level. Soul Liquor is dark album. Dark and ominous. Jace's rhymes are sedated and deadpan, like he hasn't seen the sun in months, while Blak's deep-ass voice growls and stutters on the offbeat like some sick troll under a bridge. Producer King Otto (along with Mr. Hill and Bean One) provides the perfect sonic backdrop. Listen to the string section straining for a resolution that never comes on "H.O.R.", or the disjointed piano loop from "Original Conviction". Or the empty, cave-like quality of the live cuts. This is a dark record. And whereas Seattle compatriots Oldominion tend to glorify and romanticize the dark side of existence, the Silent Lambs give it to you straight. There's no glorification here. Every metaphor is spoken in a monotone, like a grocery list, making the blasted aural landscape even bleaker.
So I guess this album wouldn't have been a hit in another city, as it is so definitely a Northwest record. And if it had come out later, it might have just been dismissed as another act cashing in on the "Northwest Sound" credited to Oldominion. It's too bad, because the Silent Lambs Project deserves to be recognized as one of the great inspirational acts in the underground hip hop constellation.