Hip Hop has long since joined the fraternity of relevant art forms reduced to rubble by radio friendly unit shifters. Much like punk rock, slick producing has attempted to silence the loud, angry and rebellious cries of Hip Hop. The digital age has brought with it the one-song download mentality, making the idea of an entire album something akin to seeing Sasquatch surfing on Jaws. However, also like punk rock, a loud and rowdy underground scene has given fans a new light to follow.
Jedi Mind Tricks, Army Of Pharaohs, MF Doom, Lupe Fiasco, Czarface, Death Grips, the list grows every day. Two new names to be etched into that list are GG The Giant and Sankonn, two Cincinnati based rappers who have dropped a new mix tape titled Work In Progre$$. It’s an interesting mix of thug life, smooth player and smart lyrics. Instead of holding down one specific point of view, GG and Sankonn seem more focused on taking all the ideas of urban Hip Hop life and filtering them through their own style. It helps raise Work In Progre$$ above the amateur hour many mix tapes end up sounding like.
GG The Giant is the first voice you hear. Opening with the line “I laugh with many but I don’t trust any,” he sets up who he is and what he’s about. GG has an economy with words that is rare. He doesn’t waste lyrics, and when he does go off the beaten path it’s fun to listen to. I kept waiting for him to lose the beat but his flow is razor sharp no matter what the beat is doing.
Next is Sankonn, whose vocals have a rougher edge than GG. His flow is less relaxed, like a jazz drummer who circles the time but is too busy riffing off of it to remain in the pocket. Where you wonder if GG can maintain his laid back vibe through the track, with Sankonn you wait to see exactly how he’s going to connect his first word to his last. A great example of his style is the song “Royalty,” a solo jam where Sankonn can let loose. He’s also backed by a crushing beat from producer Taylor King.
Part of the excellence in the journey is the music. Instead of slapping together beats to rhyme over, GG and Sankonn have taken care to choose a variety of musical styles, allowing the music to match their off-kilter rhyme style. Urban Nerd, Cmplx Beats, Canis Major, Saul Productions, Dead Lighters, Prod IV Beats, Scrilla, MidiMike, M. Ragsol and the aforementioned Taylor King are an effective army. None of them produce the same thing but all the tracks fit together nicely, giving Work In Progre$$ the feel of a unified project. Pianos, drums, bass lines and samples converge into something that blows away most million dollar produced Hip Hop on the radio. Along with GG and Sankonn, each of these producers should have a major voice in the future of Hip Hop
There are a couple issues with Work In Progre$$. First is the “Outro,” which has one of the strongest beats on the whole album but is sans lyrics. Instead, GG and Sankonn just kind of talk over it in a random manner. It feels like a waste of a great track. I also would have altered the track listing. The first two tracks sound a bit too similar to me. I would have separated them with a couple of the less relaxed, rougher songs. Regardless of the nit-picky details, Work In Progre$$ is a major statement from two strong new voices in the game.
Stand out tracks are “Gold Thoughts,” “Royalty,” “F.A.N.,” “Raw Cypher” and “Brother’s Keeper.”