[12 May 2008]
It has become apparent over the past few years that underground hip-hop has become a parody. Just go to any hip-hop show where the opening act is an unknown local emcee or group. Before the set even starts, you could more than likely touch on each song topic, which will either be women, the emcee’s “dopeness”, a shitty job, hip-hop’s decline, or “taking this shit back to the golden age.”
Fortunately for Moe Pope & Headnodic, they don’t fill their debut Megaphone with too many of the aforementioned clichés. Sure, you have some bravado being flaunted on lead single “Danger Danger”, which features an insane guest spot from Gift of Gab. For the majority of the album, Boston rapper Moe Pope impresses with his effortless rhyming as heard on “Grit” and the album’s intro. Although it’s a bit of a stretch, something about his flow is reminiscent of Nas, just without the grime and undeniable appeal.
Producer and Wisconsin/New Jersey native Headnodic is no slouch either. His boom-bap, sample-based beats shine just as brightly as his emcee counterpart. “Air” is perfection with its gorgeous electric guitar licks looping throughout. Headnodic’s only weakness, and though it’s not entirely his fault, is that much of his production sounds recycled. It’s clear that he and Moe Pope are going for an old-school-meets-new-school feel, so many of the songs will remind you of past underground hits.
Megaphone is a certainly a solid debut, flaws and all. Like a lot of underground hip-hop albums, the hooks and choruses just leave too much to be desired. Much of them either sound forced or are just plain weak. Even “Grit”, which is otherwise spectacular, stumbles with its lackluster hook. The same goes for “That-A-That”. Moe’s buddies from Project Move, Anonymous and Raheem Jamal, shine on their guest verses, but the chorus is played-out and tired.