Up-and-coming California emcee Sayknowledge makes a strong showing with his first full-length album, ‘Vibe Called Quest,’ with jazzy hip-hop hooks supporting incredibly tight rap vocals. Boasting a crisp delivery reminiscent of Twista or Eminem and a downtempo groove that recalls Snoop Dogg in his heyday, ‘Say’ is definitely going to be someone to watch in the coming years.
Sayknowledge has released several LPs to modest success in the bay area, earning the respect of publications such as Exclaim magazine, URB.com and Imposer. All the attention has given him a fairly sizable following in his home state of California. ‘Vibe Called Quest,’ however, will be his first foray into the US as a whole.
Say’s rhymes are nearly always incredibly detailed and topical. If you can manage to follow his train of thought, you’ll find that he references everything from Condoleeza Rice to the Soviet Union to Dragonball Z in service of deep metaphors that add an intense amount of value to his songs. He tackles several fairly serious topics as well; keeping promises, loneliness, and long-distance relationships are prominent themes in his work. That’s not to say that these are strictly active listening tracks, though, as the beat and crisp delivery would make for an excellent club experience
I personally recommend track 3, ‘OAK,’ for its downtempo bassline and tight delivery, which will give you a sample of the overall style of the album. Track 1, ‘I’m Here,’ features a more bluesy tone, with an alto sax and synth instrumental and some of my favorite rapped verses of the album.
Overall, ‘Vibe Called Quest’ shows a lot of promise for up-and-coming emcee Sayknowledge. As a fan of rap music, but not necessarily rap culture, the subject matter shows a surprising amount of maturity from the young artist. The album is an incredibly well-produced first effort. With a little more time to polish his style, it’s not a stretch to think that he’ll have a strong influence on the west coast rap scene in the future.
I give Sayknowledge’s ‘Vibe Called Quest’ a nine out of 10.