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Presto

State of the Art

(Fat Beats; US: 17 Jun 2008; UK: Available as import)

According to the attached press release, Presto named his latest album State of the Art because he want to bring back “some of the old school vibe on a current tip.” He was hoping to bring the groove back to music. All “Stella” references aside, Presto certainly nailed the premise and the sound of this record on the head. State of the Art is filled to the brim with that Golden Age flavor so many hip-hop artists today strive for. But luckily for Presto, he is able to both embrace that flavor and inject it into his music. And rather than settle for his best Native Tongues or Pete Rock impression, though both are definitely there, Presto reaches further.


Even though he stumbles at times in his ambition, like with the grinding strings loop of “Feel Me”, Presto mostly kills it. His booms and his baps are bumping, crisp, and laid down perfectly. On “What’s What”, which features a surprise appearance by Fatlip, Presto captures the epitome of the classic laid-back Cali feel. There is also the topnotch throwback track “Conquer Mentally” that has Largo Professor, Sadat X, and O.C. trading rhymes. Other strong efforts include “Mass Quality”, featuring a charismatic J Theory, and “Pour Another Glass”, on which Blu flexes his stellar mic skills. But Presto doesn’t just stick to replicating the hip-hop he loved in his formidable years. He mixes it up with “Plain Jane”, a smooth, classic R&B track featuring Kim Hill that sounds straight out of the ‘90s. Although chances are that Golden Age fans will be the only ones to seek out this record, it goes without saying that hip-hop heads across the board should give State of the Art a spin.

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Weekly newspaper reporter by day, music reviewer by night (OK, and by day, too). When he's not writing for PopMatters, Andrew spends most of his time at online magazine Prefix and hip-hop site Potholes In My Blog.


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