Hezekiah’s bio does its best to stress that this Philadelphia based rapper/producer was “born to be different.” The influx of various musical influences from a young age: relatives involved in music reinforcing that exposure, a first taste of musicianship at the family church, eventually developing chops and grinding in the Philly hip hop solar system working with local stalwarts like Bilal, Musiq Soulchild, Bahamadia, and The Roots, becoming a founding member of the innovative Beat Society – these are familiar signposts for artists from that southern Pennsylvania metro region. On Hezekiah’s sophomore effort, the pieces continue to add up.
The sound and feel of the album lands squarely between the over- and underground aesthetics. State of the hip hop nation reportage on “If One Falls” is juxtaposed with braggadocio and guest vocalist Freeway’s bull-in-a-china-shop delivery on “That Filling”. The Nate Dogg knock-off chorus on female drama tale “Let’s Get Involved” rubs shoulders with the plaintive, loping “Bombs Over Here.”
Hezekiah’s production guidance is probably the yeast that makes these disparate ingredients rise evenly: he produced or co-produced eleven of the album’s 18 tracks. Walking his Beat Society talk, Hezekiah makes great use of congas (“Wild and Wreckless”, “Single Now”) and horns (particularly on the aforementioned “Bombs Over Here”), weaving a generally mellow, jazz/funk tapestry to drape over bellicose claims like, “My album cover got better beats than you do”.
Despite this effective mesh of beats and lyrics, a few missteps here and there firmly tether the album in good (as opposed to great) territory. An overly expansive eighteen tracks leads to some repetition, and ending an album called “I Predict a Riot” with a meandering interlude and an outro may not have been the strongest choice. On the other hand, the album’s last “full” track, “Ghetto People”, is dedicated to James Brown.