[25 September 2006]
What good is a group that drools over hip-hop’s golden age when platinum now rules the rap world? Basic Vocab don’t seem dumb, but ignoring the current state of what sells, lyrically-retarded crunk, is foolish. Fortunately, foolish proves foolproof here on an unexpectedly sturdy debut record. Hailing from Miami, the threesome of MCs JL Sorell and Mental Growth, and producer Tony Galvin use their time to shine a flashlight on the familiar. “Come Get With It” is the shoulder-shuffling first single, a mating dance whose steps follow the lead of A Tribe Called Quest or Slum Village. No amount of hero worship can secure Basic Vocab’s MCs a prominent place next to Fat Lip or Q-Tip but they ride atop breezy boom-bap beats with ease, spitting coherent rhymes to tickle your eardrums. “Vibin’” sees Galvin striking all the right chords. Meanwhile, JL Sorell and Mental Growth challenge the freshness of modern hip-hop without leaning too hard on well-worn platitudes. Miami may be party central, but on “Fallen One” Basic Vocab bat around their ideas about terrorism and ghetto hustlin’. Too laid back to be heavy-handed, The General Dynamic has too few throwaway moments to dwell in underground obscurity.