[9 July 2009]
Over the years, producer showcases have become a staple of hip-hop. And, at times, the concept of listening to an album by one and only one producer is refreshing. Honestly, too many times we have all read a review where one of the bigger criticisms is the scattered list of producers. Thus, in a way, albums like Fabio Musta’s Passport are the answer to that problem. But then there is the fact that instead of a varied list of beatsmiths, it’s a plethora of emcees that all bring something different to the table. And therein lays the true problem. It’s far too difficult to create more than a “good” album when cohesiveness is left by the wayside. And even though Musta comes close to achieving that on here with likeminded emcees, Passport still feel like it has been stretched too thinly. Also, in this album’s case, the beats tend to blend together too often, even if they are mostly well-crafted. Either way, it’s nice to see him bring out the best in Jeru the Damaja for the melancholy “Open Up Their Eyes”, one of the album’s best. That also goes for Guilty Simpson, who drops some solid rhymes over the piano-twinkles and vocal-loops on “Feel It”. But the album’s flow is broken up by other, weaker cuts. And the most blatant offender is the dud of all duds “Hassa” with Termanology, who is rarely palatable anyway. Above it all, though, Musta displays flashes of brilliance across Passport. And that need to be recognized, especially since the man is from Italy—not exactly a hotbed of rap. Also, let’s hope this opens the gateway for other talented producers from Europe, because we could definitely use more beatsmiths like Nicolay, Embee (of Looptroop), and Fabio Musta.