Stage names mean a lot in hip-hop. Some are straightforward, like “Kanye West” or “Mike Jones”. Others are created from acronyms, like “KRS-One” (“Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over” every “One”. Then there are suggestive monikers like “Public Enemy”, and abstract names like “A Tribe Called Quest”. Superiority Complex is a great name for a hip-hop group, as it taps into rap’s affinity for bragging. With a three-man line-up—Iron Monk, Blackology, and Poisoned Fetus (that last one suggests that the bearer is an “ill emcee”)—the Orlando, Florida-based crew takes its cues from ‘90s-era Native Tongue flows and cadences. The group would have fit in nicely with A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Jungle Brothers, Leaders of the New School, and Black Sheep, as demonstrated by this album’s two standouts—“Butter” (a lively tribute/remake of A Tribe Called Quest’s song of the same name) and “Club That Much” (for those of us who are too busy to go out all the time—this song is brilliant). As the name suggests, Superiority Complex has all the bravado the hip-hop template requires (“Stand Up”), but the group can also convey the self-doubt that comes with not hitting the big time while watching other acts get popular (“Bad” and the aptly named “Inferiority Complex”). Aside from “Butter” and “Club That Much”, the best flows are in “Rightside”, “The Rhyme”, and “Deathwish”, the last of which brilliantly converts its beat into Phil Collins and Philip Bailey’s “Easy Lover”. As an album, however, Stand Up, is an uneven listen, particularly when the rhymes and beats don’t complement one another (“Seasons”, “Relax Yourself”). Nevertheless, Superiority Complex has an expansive vision that promises to produce a more satisfying release.
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// Notes from the Road
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