Qwel & Maker The Harvest

[Galapagos4; 2004]

Styles: underground hip-hop
Others: Typical Cats, Glue, Sage Francis

Okay, Maker really needs to discipline himself. He should no longer allow any MCs to rhyme over his beats, no matter how talented they are. Maker has proven he's one of the most gifted producers over the last couple of years. He's blessed our unworthy arses with his TBA material, his solo Honestly album, and most recently, his Glue project. It's gotten to the point where a man will be escorted out of a room if he speaks negatively of Maker's raw and consistently jaw-dropping skill. Mister Maker continues his winning streak with this latest Galapagos4 record with friend and associate, Qwel. The Harvest further stakes the claims that Qwel is one of Chicago's finest. After the praise he received for his past two solos, he had plenty of momentum coming into this one.

More often than not, in reference to Qwel, you catch yourself asking, "What the hell is he talkin' about?" It seems more like an exercise in wordplay rather than coherence. His inflections and tone barely ever change. There's no question that Qwel is quite stunning in his wordplay, but that can only be admired for so long. The human mind can only sustain so much interplay between words and phrases, rhymed syllables, and clever punchline twists. There needs to be more content and passion behind Qwel's lyrics. Luckily, Maker picks up the slack in this department.

Maker is clearly the star here (again!), outshining every rapper he's collaborated with. It must be damn discouraging to be an MC nowadays. His sample choices and breaks are impeccable. The intro and outro on the album are actually highlights; it's probably no coincidence that they're instrumentals.

The Harvest pretty much proves what's already been proven. Maker flexes his production muscles drenched in glimmering baby oil, and Qwel says how hip-hop needs to leave behind the glamour. The latter of these two has been beaten to death and stressed by too many rappers. No one is going to save hip-hop by being so self-aware of it in their songs. Just do the job you say needs to be done and you'll get along just fine.

1. Begin
2. The "IT" In "Keeping IT Real"
3. Broken Wing
4. The Siren Of Liberty Island
5. Deuterium
6. The Network
7. Capathy
8. Break
9. Road Atlas
10. Chicago '66
11. Ugly Hungry Puppy
12. Where I Go, There I Go
13. Ruby Ragdollenne
14. A Little Something
15. End