Tim Holland—the man known as Sole to a generation of politically conscious independent hip-hop fans—is one of the biggest and most respected names in the business. So when I heard he had put a touring band together and was going to drag them through the studio, I nearly plotzed. How did the man who penned “Da Baddest Poet” also hold the key to my dreams? Can he hear me now? Though high expectations can taint an experience, the self-titled Sole & The Skyrider Band debut easily lives up to my own hype. Working closely with multi-instrumentalist William Fritch and apt programmer Bud Berning filling in the holes, augmented by the odd piece of live drumming, they don’t just recreate but improve upon the formulas which have essentially become standard in underground rap and Sole’s own work. They embrace the record popping, sci-fi synth, classic blues and soul sampling swagger which gives Holland’s fierce social commentary its punch, but the live human element, as always, puts it all over the top. Sole is now officially one notch above Sage Francis in the artistic credibility department.
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