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The Hit List

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Album Review

Out of the depths of Oakland's underground, Saafir returned early in the year 2000 with The Hit List, officially his sophomore release after a five-year hiatus. Claiming no affiliations to the now ragtag Hieroglyphics crew and making no real mention of his former Hobo Junction allegiance, Saafir the lyrical heavyweight is one of hip-hop's starving artists. Refusing to bow down to label demands and the drain of the commercial industry, Saafir pleads for respect and paper but feels the tension of realizing what financial success inevitably costs. Saafir, of the penetrating voice and abstract lyrical concepts, is known for his prolific freestyling capabilities. The Hit List espouses this freestlye technique. Scoffing at crossovers who would call him a professor of "mad-rapperism," this off-center artist offered the masses The Hit List, a meandering album with sparse production and air-tight lyrics. Despite its underground appeal and Saafir's superior lyricism, musically The Hit List often misses the mark. The Bay Area underground is known for its compressed, dense sound, and the enigmatic Left Coast off-the-cuff rhymer who first found his way to the sound booth on Casual's Fear Itself is clearly coming out of left field. Even with Saafir's vocal stranglehold, something is missing here either from the artist or, more likely, from the hip-hop game itself. Best tracks here are the Carlos "6 July" Broady-produced "Six Digits" and "Mask-a-Raid" featuring SoCal's Jayo Felony. "Final Thrill," "Smart Bomb," and "25 ta Life" featuring flame-thrower Chino XL are also top shelf. ~ M.F. DiBella, Rovi


Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s

From the Bay Area, Saafir first appeared on Casual's Fear Itself, Digital Underground's The Body-Hat Syndrome, and the Menace II Society soundtrack. With a deal from Qwest Records, the rapper recruited the Hobo Junction production team (J Groove, J.Z., Rational, Big Nose, and Poke Marshall) for his freestyle debut, Boxcar Sessions (1994). He appeared in the film Menace II Society...
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