Changing His Name To "Who Diss?!"
This album was recently posted up by the cats at Know This, but I feel so strongly about this guy that I wanted to review it over here. Specs One, the mastermind behind the legendary 206 acts the Elevators, The Crew Clockwise, and Original Space Neighbors (among many, many others) dropped this album in 2001. Return of the Artist is a fitting name for this album, as it heralded a rebirth of Specs as a rhyme artist and producer. For years Specs had been legendary as the most underground of underground heads in Seattle, releasing shit at shows and at the mom and pop stores on cassette and through mail order, and this was his first wide-spread release (on CD!), as far as I know. Released on the Abduction label, this was also a change stylistically from his projects up to this point. The songs here, whether vocal tracks or instrumental, are solid, distilled to the prime elements, and no-nonsense. On his various tracks from his salad days (Numerology, American Music, Balcony, Etc) his work had a distinct experimental vibe, allowing the tracks to stretch out and grow on their own. I revere his early stuff (well, all his stuff) with something close to adoration, and everything I've ever found by Mr. Hall has been a treasure. But Return was a decidedly more accessible record than his previous efforts since the Elevators' Transitions EP. Here, Specs goes as straight-ahead hip hop as Specs gets, which means it's still underground, scratchy, and experimental as most cats never dare to go, but it's all systems ahead with beats to make the head nod and lyrics that are always engaging. No track ever lasts too long, and there's never any lag between the musical/lyrical action. This is a classic Northwest selection, ranked at the top. Released in 2004, this is still available to purchase... Long live the Green Lover!