AWOL One Self Titled

[Paladin; 2004]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: underground hip-hop
Others: The Shapeshifters, Circus, 2mex

Many leftfield underground hip-hop artists experience a split opinion from their general audience. People either love 'em or hate 'em. It can be both frustrating and comforting to be one of these artists. On one hand, you have a solid and loyal group of listeners; while on the other, you have a group of people who have it cemented in their brains that you blow. AWOL One, along with many of his Shapeshifter comrades, falls into this perplexing category. With his drunken-growl of a voice, lazy delivery, and atypical content, he draws as much bitter criticism as he does undying praise. With years packed full of acclaimed releases, worldwide touring, and independent cred, the naysayers aren't one of Awolrus' main concerns. With all this said, we, the fickle audience, are now presented with Self Titled; full of the usual treats and individuality.

One thing AWOL has always maintained is his honesty. Lyrics full of quirky remarks are scattered throughout his entire catalog; Self Titled is no different in this regard. AWOL even goes out of his way on a number of occasions to remind the listener that he is indeed being honest. He makes it quite clear that he places that above all else, and if you don't like it, you can turn it off. This is all well and dandy and we respect AWOL for being truthful, but when he keeps reminding us of this it almost comes off as a disclaimer. Some may take his truth-obsession as an excuse for lackluster songwriting. It's no secret that AWOL, as well as Circus (who guests on the album), are scatterbrained speakers. They often deviate from the topic at hand and branch off into random commentary. Of course, for diehard fans this constitutes much of the appeal in these artists.

Production on the album is handled by a variety of producers ranging from Kut Master Kurt and Evidence to Mike Nardone. AWOL has always exhibited a knack and talent for rhyming impressively over a diverse style of beats, seeming as though he never runs out of something to say. Whether he's lamenting about people's warped perception of him or trying to make the most of his time, his words convey the message of an undaunted underdog. There is something for everyone here to appreciate. AWOL is a rapper who takes his music seriously but not to the point where he forgets it's about having fun. Armed with a 40 oz. and a spray can, he's out once again to turn the haters into believers.

1. Make
2. Believe
3. Time
4. Slide
5. S.O.T.F.
6. Antisocial
7. Matters
8. Grow
9. Memowrecks
10. Fears
11. Fatalove
12. Realeyes
13. On
14. Push
15. Take
16. Gagbuster