Step Brothers: Lord Steppington

This collaborative offering from Evidence and Alchemist brings some of the best beats of January, but lacks the substance to keep it in rotation for the rest of 2014.

Step Brothers

Lord Steppington

Label: Rhymesayers
US Release Date: 2014-01-21
UK Release Date: 2014-01-20

In a world of MP3 downloads and digital music offerings, it’s refreshing to see a release that puts a lot of work into the physical copy. Rhymesayers Entertainment and the creative minds of Alchemist and Evidence came together to create the brilliant packaging for the collaborative record Lord Steppington. Both the CD and the vinyl come in a velvet slipcase with grandiloquent inner workings. It’s not often that the CD case becomes a topic of discussion with an album, but the presentation of the music is a part of the full-package and Alchemist and Evidence nailed that aspect with Lord Steppington.

Alchemist is no newcomer, but he’s showing no signs of slowing down. His output over the last few years has been almost unparalleled by any other producer, yet his work isn’t suffering from oversaturation. The packaging of these beats is nearly as good as the casing. Alchemist is a master of the boom bap sound, and his crate digging obsession supplies some great sampling framework. Instrumentally, this is right up there with the best of Alchemist’s releases of the last few years. However, it’s interesting to note that one the best beats on the album, “Byron G”, was actually the lone production credit for Evidence.

The production is by far the strong point of Lord Steppington. Alchemist and Evidence do enough to sound at home and move the songs along, but they never feel like they’re rapping with a purpose. Their rapping simply lacks personality. You could give these beats to anyone else and get similar results. There’s no personal connection, no memorable storytelling, no creative wordplay, and no character to make you feel that this the Step Brothers. The best verses on this album come from Roc Marciano, Domo Genesis, and Action Bronson making guest appearances and stealing the show.

Thankfully, the production is actually good enough to save this. It’s not even that Alchemist and Evidence are bad rappers or that they can’t hold their own. They’re serviceable on the mic, but they’re also incredibly unremarkable. It’s an album that doesn’t feel like it has a real aim. Lord Steppington is said to have been four years in the making, but it seems as if hardly any of that time went into writing. There aren’t any real themes in the album. The closest it comes is in song-ending samples quoting interviews, movies, and the sorts, although these segments don’t tie into any bigger picture.

The beats make good music for a ride, but the mediocre lyrics hold this back from having the substance that you would like a rap record to have. As it stands, Lord Steppington is very good background music. To some, that may be all you’re really looking for. Alchemist certainly doesn’t disappoint on the boards. “More Wins” and “See the Rich Man Play” are just a few of many neck-breaking beats. Lord Steppington is worth a listen for the production alone if you’re a fan of boom bap hip-hop. It’s just a shame because this could’ve been so much more if more of the focus went into writing.


To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.