TheBREAXâ€™s debut album led Rawkus Records (their admittedly self-interested label) to declare them one of the most important new hip hop acts of our time. While the trio, which hails from Baltimore (DJ Beleaf), San Diego (Mic B), and Azerbaijad (Ruslan), established their credentials on their first record, the sophomore effort is intentionally more mainstream, with more hooks and bangers. But going â€œovergroundâ€ hasnâ€™t ruined this unique crewâ€”itâ€™s simply made them more accessible. Lyrically, theyâ€™re still about honesty and realnessâ€”eschewing gangsta posing or bling bling bling in favor of themes of unity, civil rights, and, of course, religion. Usually anything overtly Christian is a big turn-off for me, but theBREAX never get preachy ,and theyâ€™ve got the chops to back up their product.
Eye Am Productions (behind Jay-Zâ€™s favorite remix of his own album, â€œEye Am Gangsterâ€) provides fantastic beats hereâ€”as good as anything on a major label with millions of dollars behind it. Other
behind-the-boards contributors include Rocwilder and theBREAXâ€™s own DJ Beleaf (who makes great use of a â€œSummertimeâ€ sample). As a result, the music is versatile. Whether itâ€™s a Timbaland/Neptunes sound-a-like (â€œtheBREAX Is Everywhereâ€) or something crunkier (â€œGet Ignorantâ€), Ruslan and crew prove themselves in every genre. â€œWanna Love,â€ their foray into RandB, has a great electronica hookâ€”like if Beck made real hip hop. Iâ€™m not a huge fan of rap love songs, but this one is pretty good, largely because of the music.
If â€œselling outâ€ means doing what everyone else is doing, only better, then itâ€™s a welcome development
for these indie rappers.