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DJBooth Album Review
K-Beta is here, and he’s determined to restore that balance on his new album Inglorious Beta. One of a seeming flood of supremely talented artists to come pouring out of the previously overlooked DMV, Beta’s never been afraid to speak his mind – he did name his 2006 project Ni**er the Album – and it’s that willingness to pull back the curtain and reveal his real life, for all its successes and imperfections, that makes Inglorious Beta such a gripping listen. If you’re looking to throw on an album at your next house party that will get booties poppin, you’re going to want to look elsewhere. But if you’re in need of some quality hip-hop, look no further.
We might as well get right down to business with the project’s lead single I’m Bleeding. Centered around a haunting vocal sample (shades of Wayne’s I Feel Like Dying) and slowly pacing beat courtesy of Team Demolition, on Bleeding Beta appropriately lets his pen bleed onto the page and craft narrative driven lines like, “razor cuts under the outer layer, one red drop seeps out with a prayer.” LOL Smiley Face this isn’t. Like Beta, we might as well hit the darkness head on and delve into Suicide next, a track whose lyrical content and J-Scrilla produced beat is lighter than the title might suggest (but not my much) and the banging Surrender, a kinetic cut that serves as an anthem for the downtrodden. It’s important to remember that these tracks are about struggle and pain, but they’re not about giving up. Throughout the album Beta maintains a sense that as dire as the situation may be, there is at the very least a glimmer of hope; even if that hope is sometimes very, very dim.
That’s not to say that all of Inglorious Beta is an exercise in pain. Come Closer switches up the pace significantly, a duet of sorts with Mina that details the collapse of a relationship that was once alive. Ok, so maybe that wasn’t the best example. Let’s try Smoke With Me. A song with the word “smoke in it” has to be lighter, right? Well, yes…kind of. Apparently the chronic mostly frees Beta up to think some deep mother**king thoughts. Wait, I got it. As unlikely as it may sound, on a purely sonic level Soul Cry is probably the album’s most smile-inducing offering, thanks in no small part to some reggae influenced production from Grussle and vocals from Beta that flow in and out of the bass heavy track. And of course I should also throw in Infinite Possibilities, a hypnotizing track that’s essentially about sex positions. What “possibilities” did you think we were talking about? So it’s not exactly D’Angelo’s Untitled. So what? Infinite Possibilities allows the listener to come up for air in the middle of a densely heavy album, and here that’s more than good enough.
The truth is that most of Inglorious Beta falls somewhere in between those relatively narrow ends of the spectrum. Just take Black Business, a booming track that also might be the album’s best. Here Beta is as serious as ever, but the energy he embeds the track with makes you want to get up and go, not lay down. I could also say the same thing for Burn Through the Journal, a head-nodding joint guaranteed to get your neck rocking. Ultimately, here’s the point: Inglorious Beta is not an album that can be listened to lightly. It will demand something from you, and if you’re willing to give it your time, and possibly some small piece of your soul, I guarantee K-Beta will repay you in full, and then some. Proceed accordingly.
DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on Apr 07, 2010
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