Album Review – Venomous2000 & Kingshon

Venomous2000 & Kingshon

“Still Connected”

(Venomous2000.BandCamp.Com)

With a slew of releases already behind him, New Jersey emcee Venomous2000’s latest album finds the talented artist once again delivering what has become his trademark blend of intelligent lyricism and quality true-school production mixed with a hint of b-boy bravado.

Produced entirely by fellow Brick City native Kingshon, “Still Connected” is the second instalment of the pair’s planned three album series, with this project once again proving that the duo definitely share a notable musical chemistry as initially demonstrated on 2007’s “Universally Connected”.

Venomous’s claims of being a “humble student of the art” ring true throughout “Stay Connected”, with the East Coast microphone manipulator clearly passionate about honouring the influences of those artists who came before him whilst also bringing something of his own to add to Hip-Hop’s cultural legacy. A genuine lyricist who obviously thinks carefully about every line he commits to his rhyme pad, Venomous appears oblivious to current trends as he packs each track here with dense verses, ensuring this is a project that needs to be properly listened to in order to be fully appreciated and not just played as background music.

Both a spiritual and musical journey, in places “Stay Connected” finds Venomous2000 dealing with potentially heavyweight subject matter but avoiding coming across as preachy or self-righteous, mixing food for thought with witty punchlines and an overall likeable personality.

The slick “GPS” features Venomous reminding listeners that “cameras couldn’t capture what the third-eye’s beholding” over sweeping strings, encouraging us to find a deeper meaning in life that goes beyond simple material items and financial wealth. Fellow wordsmith Phonetic joins Venom on the hypnotic “Stress Relief”, with the pair working through the frustrations of daily life accompanied by a sharp cut-and-paste scratched hook courtesy of DJ Hush.

The sparse “Breathe Easy” is built around Kingshon’s filthy, distorted sub-bass, with the track’s menacing production bringing out a slight sneer in Venomous’s delivery as he taunts his competition (“You can try to emulate, Vocals wouldn’t stimulate…”), whilst “God’s Prison (Remix)” features Brooklyn’s own Smif-N-Wessun painting vivid pictures of claustrophobic inner-city life.

The raw “Grill Paper” showcases Venomous, S.U. and Twilight paying homage to 90s influences such as Biggie, Boot Camp Clik and M.O.P., incorporating familiar rhymes from some of their favourite emcees into their own impressive verses.

Ending the album on a reflective note, the soothing “Each Time” is a reminder to embrace every new day we’re faced with, to chase our dreams and try to learn and grow as a person along the way. Nalm Myerz, RealEyez Mystic, Poet Substratum and 2000 himself all deliver emotionally poignant performances, enhanced by Kingshon’s subtle, dream-like production.

Other than a couple of tracks that could have been left to one side, “Still Connected” is overall a worthy collection of life-affirming beats and rhymes. Like the music of the many old-school soul legends Venomous2000 counts as inspiration, this is an album you can put on at the end of a hard day, and by the time the final track fades away you’re guaranteed to feel a little better about the world around you.

Ryan Proctor

Venomous2000 & Kingshon – “Walk On By” (Venomous2000.BandCamp.Com / 2012)

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