by Dan O
Between the trinity: my son, wife, and I we rarely ever refer to the family. From very early on my wife and I always talked about us as a team. My son has watched enough basketball to know how a team sinks when one player is off playing hero ball and the others are standing around. The word team implies shared sacrifice and fluid responsibility in a way that makes sense. To win our duties may have to change. Family is loaded with storybook connotation. I know my son can hear the shoes squeaking against the court when I said team. It’s alive, immediate, functional. Sedale Threat is the album that most sounds like team. I thought rather than a linear review it made more sense to highlight the elements that make it special, give specific credit where credit is due.
- The Unexpected sounds are the most important– As a creator you must NEVER abandon your capability to surprise. Anyone who listens to Wrecking Crew knows Small Professor is one of the best producers in the world, knows that Zilla Rocca is an excellent producer. If the first beat you heard was a Jason Griff beat we all would have been happy and felt comfortable, which is why that was avoided. The first beat you hear on Sedale Threat is from August Fanon on Odom and it’s tilted sinister Tom Waits style piano in front of the boom bap knock we love. Not something we anticipated and it leads right into Crooked Leg Colter produced by Analog(ue) Tape Dispenser. For my ears this is the most important beat on the album. Dedicating this song to a player whose career average is 6.3 points per game the pace pushes away from the well tread universe of sinister haunted house boom bap. This is a beat Scoob and Scrap would dance with Kane on. Hearing PremRock, Zilla Rocca and Curly Castro digest and spit out the pace lets you know to expect the unexpected. This song leads you perfectly into the big nasty BLCK RCK N RLL with Thirstin Howl The 3rd.
- If you are rapping with friends USE that comfort-I love how verses wrap around each other throughout the album. If you have years of rapport with someone that is your advantage, listen to how PremRock swirls into Zilla and then releases into Bruiser Wolf on Piranha Hands. After an incredible initial bridge to chorus singing performance by Castro on Supreme Rock at one minute and thirty six seconds the high hat reverberates as the beat drops all the way in (holy smokes Controller 7) and in a slick hush Premrock grips the mic and never gives it back. Love to Zilla for not jumping on that track. I’m in deep admiration of the songs where friends step aside in acknowledgement that the team doesn’t need them to win tonight.
- A crew album is never going to be fully conceptual so it needs bangers-The best rap albums use the contrast of slow personal songs to tough fist pumping ones in order to levy an ‘album of the year’ experience. That’s just more difficult to do while utilizing all members of the crew. Its rarely a unified vision (shout out to Enter The 36 Chambers and 93 ’til Infinity) because lots of people involved creates a collage of perspective. Wrecking Crew understood this and looked at each song as a solo mission to succeed. You can put on any individual song from Sedale Threat and trust it goes hard! Atom Kief and Sixx Fo don’t need album context to make it into your car speakers.
- No bad verses allowed-I know who I think has the least great verse on Sedale Threat (I AIN’T TELLING) but that verse is still a good verse. The crew set up an environment so competitive it puts pressure on all involved. Guests bring next level performances! Making sure we get no soft spots, no skippable moments makes the album ride like Bobby Jackson did from ’02 to ’06. The mission is the same. No wasted moments on the court.
- Maximize the positive traits of each member-Wrecking Crew is brilliant advertisement. It shows you how special Castro is at layering references, conceptualizing songs and hooks. The durability, instinctual intelligence of Zilla Rocca as he pours himself into all manner of different containers without ever reaching beyond himself. The hilarious vivid vastness of imagery and language PremRock packs into a Lou Williams shooting touch. Its one thing to know what you do well it is another thing to have that same 3 dimensional understanding of everyone in the crew. As the Coen Brothers say ‘casting is everything’ putting the right people in the right places based on how well they shine there. A beautiful legacy for an album bent on sweaty exacting victory.