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Elevator Music

Othello

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Album Review

Elevator Music, Othello's solo debut, is not as much a solitary studio soirée as an excuse for a party, and one with a sizable guest list. Invitations were sent to the rapper's old cohorts, of course, and they all showed up, with much of the cream of the Christian hip-hop scene also making appearances. With the party people sharing out the mike and the production duties, you'd expect this set to sound highly eclectic. And you'd be wrong, for everyone involved seems to be digging the same vibes, and regardless of the diversity of styles the album feels surprisingly coherent. The aura is decidedly chill and the preferred genres are jazz and R&B, with blues, '60s soul, and funk edging many of the numbers. The album title obviously plays on these relaxed and relaxing atmospheres within, on music that is easy on the ears, as well as many uplifting themes. Othello drives that point home both on the title track and "Floor One," with its message "to elevate" one's self. The rapper effectively proselytizes on "Organic," and delivers his personal manifesto on "Heart" in combination with Destro. Both numbers also involve Nickels, who provides scratches or production on a clutch of numbers. He's a member of Othello's old crew, Logique, as is Page One, who joins the rapper on the '40s jazz-flavored "Consider It." Ohmega Watts and Braille are Othello's Lightheaded crew-to-be, and guest on the sizzling "Hier Borne" and sizzling guitar-strewn "Oblivious Enlight," respectively. RedCloud joins in on the haunting, tongue-twisting "Goodwill Chopping," DJ Manwell urges "Relax Yourself," Sirens Echo offers "Seasons Greetings," and Malachi Perez and Deep 6 solicitously ask "How Ya Livin." Regardless of the laid-back feel of the set, the music never merges toward Muzak — there's too much of interest going on for that (the slide "Relax" takes into dancehall, for instance). Nor do all the tracks delve into the spiritual realm, with a few tackling broader or smaller themes. The combinations all work a treat, as if everyone has been working together for ages (as they have in some cases). However, with Othello flying solo on only four numbers and handling production only on "Heart," he hasn't really left the nest yet. This is a fine, entertaining set, but gives little indication of what this still maturing artist is capable of on his own.

Elevator Music, Othello
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