Ever wanted to go on a hip-hop music tour? Pack your bags, sit tight and enjoy the ride with CunninLynguists’ new album “Strange Journey Vol. One,” which came out on May 26.
Yes, the first thing that has to be pointed out is that CunninLynguists is not a word you hear everyday, or a rap group you might hear on the radio.
It is a group that consists of three members (Deacon the Villain, Natti, and Kno) who come from the South and bring nothing but excellence whenever they come out with new music.
But don’t think Master P, Soulja Boy or Lil’ Wayne when checking them out.
Think of groups like Outkast, Goodie Mob or Geto Boys, because in their new album “Strange Journey Vol. One,” it definitely brings them into the same level as these legendary rap groups.
The album’s title, “Strange Journey,” takes a music fan on a journey through the album, similar to a music tour.
The album breaks down into the different stages one may go through while traveling or touring in a crappy bus that has no guarantee of survival.
It starts out with the intro entitled “Departure,” where the group gets ready to leave and hop on a raggedy old van that “Deep Purple or Stillwater” might have possibly toured in the 70s.
Next stop is “Nothing But Strangeness,” featuring Looptroop Rockers and Hilltophoods. It’s generally a happy song with clever lyrics that have to do with strange touring tales like: “Strippers took my mojo with checks in Santa Fe/ and in the Netherlands I was asked to push Santa’s Sleigh.” This song will definitely make your head bop as well!
The next track is “Lyngusitics,” a song from the group’s first album “Will Rap For Food” (2001), which was performed live in Stockholm, Sweden. This is part of the tour that brings back memories, and current fans will be pleased. Never thought the song would sound any better, but hearing it live will surely prove many wrong.
“Move” is also part of the performing category because it will definitely move the crowd with its strong lyrics and hard- hitting beat that will get anyone out of their seat.
The album features various artists that have songs to themselves without any of the group’s members in them. One of the songs being, “Spark My Soul” by Inverse and Substantial. In the song, which sticks to the performing and music category, shows the appreciation they have for the music and how being an artist is a hustling job, accompanied by a smooth beat.
The next stage of the album is the “Experimental” part of touring, leading off with the song “Never Come Down (The Brownie Song)” which is the single of the album and is by far one of the best rap songs of the year. The song has funny, yet intellectual lyrics that are accompanied by a relaxing beat that was produced by Kno, who produced the entire album, and represents the good times that occur when all the performing is all done.
It also couldn’t be a tour if there’s no women involved. And that’s what these next three songs in the album are all about.
“Hypnotized,” which features Pack FM and Club Dub, deals with the troubling issues of women who just simply hypnotize these guys with their good looks and physique. The beat has a reggae feel to it and Pack FM sticks to what he does best – rapping about women.
“I hate to see you go, but love to watch you leaving.”
The next track does have to do with a woman, but more of a metaphorical one. It deals with artists who lose their “souls” and basically sell out for the cash. They are artists who are being controlled by puppet strings and are told to dance for the public whenever they are told.
The song uses a girl named Emily, who had a chance of becoming something but threw it all away for the cash, as an example. The song, along with other songs on the album, is a remix to an older song that came out in the group’s last album “Dirty Acres.” Yet, this song is more upbeat and feels more hip-hop than the original.
Then there’s the song “Die For You,” which features former member of the group, Mr. SOS. And in it he raps about searching for love and not a date; a more serious song about the opposite sex than “Hypnotized.”
This is part of the tour when the problem of loneliness may occur and groupies are beginning to look like bad choices. The lyrics are easy to follow through, and the song has a good beat, but the hook could get kind of annoying after a while.
And as the CunninLynguists crew continues to tour and arrive at Georgia, it are pulled over by a cop and it is up to Kno to use his “White Jedi Mind Tricks” to get them out of this scenario. This is a really funny skit that will remind fans of the hilarious skits that were done in the first album, “Will Rap For Food.”
The next two tracks (“Georgia” and “K.K.K.Y.”) are also remixes to songs that came out in the album “Dirty Acres” and have to deal with the states of Georgia and Kentucky. A sort of Ode to the states, and both beats are the same as the original, but feature artists who come from the two states. Both songs also have very strong lyrics that help the artists show how it is in the place where they reside.
“And that’s the reason why we misunderstood/ cuz ain’t no stimulus plan ’bout to make it to my neighborhood.”
“Don’t Leave (Winter Come Down),” which features Slug from Atmosphere, shows the part of the journey where feeling homesick comes in. This song shows the struggle of touring and being away from family. And even though Slug only raps in a couple of bars, the mellow beat and great lyrics in the song paid dues to the small upset.
One guest rapper that has consistently been featured in most of the group’s albums is none other than Tonedeff, who is featured in the song “The Distance.” This song seriously needs no explanation because not only are the lyrics and beat exceptional, but it gives a preview to fans that are looking forward to Tonedeff and Kno’s forthcoming album “Chico and The Man.”
Then there’s the last song “Broken Van (Thinking of You),” which ends the touring journey of the CunninLynguists crew. It features Mac Lethal and is basically a song about their car breaking down and the things that go through a person’s mind during this kind of situation. The beat is nice and the sample could not have fit in any better.
The album ends with the skit, “Billy Joe’s Garage,” where the group is talking to a mechanic about how much it will cost to fix all the problems in their van, but change their mind when they ask how much the Imperial in the garage cost and the journey continues.
At the end of the day, this album is so far one of the best rap albums of year. Every track is produced by Kno, a producer who does not get enough credit for being the genius that he is on the boards.
And it may not be CunninLynguists’ best album (“Will Rap For Food”), but it truly is something amazing. An album has to grab you right away with one listen and that’s what this album will do to all hip-hop fans.
Enjoy embarking on this “Strange Journey.”
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.