Having received critical acclaim for their 2009 EP “Dig For Victory”, the undeniably gifted Soundsci crew return to burn once again with both a new album and some official changes to the group line-up. Joining the original team roster of producers Jonny Cuba (Dynamic Syncopation), Ollie Teeba (The Herbaliser) and Atlanta emcee Audessey (Mass Influence), Georgia-based wordsmith U-George (Hemisphere) and NY’s Oxygen (Sputnik Brown) also bring their lyrical skills to the table this time around, natural additions to what was already a talented underground collective.
Picking up where the previous EP left-off, “Formula 99” is full of quality production and impressive wordplay. With the group building on the true-school foundations of their golden-era influences, yet seeking to innovate and not just emulate what has come before them, simply labelling “Formula 99” as being a throwback release would not be doing justice to the creativity that has gone into this project.
Keeping the thirteen-tracks included here relatively short and to-the-point, the potency of “Formula 99” isn’t diluted by throwaway interludes or meandering self-indulgence. Soundsci cover a lot of ground, both musically and in terms of subject matter, resulting in an album that manages to achieve the difficult balance of being succinct without appearing to be rushed or incomplete.
“Hey Hey” offers political insight over bursts of funky sax and classic James Brown wails as guest John Robinson joins the proceedings to highlight the “stealth movements” of those in the corridors of power, whilst “CandyLand” wraps up the potentially gritty topics of drug addiction and street crime into a deceptively playful and light-hearted sonic package, with Audessey utilising popular nursery rhymes and fairytale characters to tell stories of urban woe.
Having proven their abilities to dabble in social commentary, Soundsci soon launch themselves back into the business of showing and proving their superiority over the competition with braggadocious rhymes over boom-bap beats. “Ill Dialect” finds “the Strong Island deriver” Oxygen dropping a particularly impressive verse, bobbing and weaving with b-boy bravado over the track’s purposeful production, punctuated by sharp piano stabs and a superbly scratched Fat Joe vocal hook. The self-explanatory “Rhyme 4 Rhyme” featuring Canada’s Ghettosocks and former Raw Produce member Cadence also stands as one of the album’s highlights, sounding like an undiscovered gem found in a dusty pile of random late-80s rap singles with its timeless Rakim sample, rattling drums and larger-than-life boasts.
The soulful Jaisu-produced “Change” offers listeners a moment of reflection as the crew address the “cycle of life” over lush strings and a warm bassline, injecting the soothing track with life-affirming rhymes and inspiring sentiments (“I got a purpose now, This I vow, I spit to move the crowds, Like I’m pulling a plough…”).
The bongo-driven “End Game” is a relentless slice of fist-pumping Hip-Hop, with the track’s frantic breakbeats, deft cuts and dramatic breakdowns likely to leave listeners caught between wanting to pay close attention to the group’s fast-paced verses and the urge to pull out a sheet of lino to attempt a windmill.
A brilliantly executed display of Hip-Hop mastery from a passionate group of individuals who clearly love both the music and its culture, “Formula 99” is another certified Soundsci sureshot that is guaranteed to satisfy the sonic appetites of true heads everywhere.
Fresh for 2012, you suckers!
Ollie Teeba’s “Formula 99” Album Megamix