Like many artists, one has to begin at the bottom and work his way towards the top. Before making waves with their breakthrough hit "Breathe Slow," Mars Ill was just another rap group fighting to gain exposure in the hip-hop industry. Composed of emcee Manchild and DJ Dust, this duo was on a mission to bring the Gospel to their peers. Their indepentently released Sound Methods 2.0 (a re-release of their 2002 indie project Sound Methods with added bonus tracks) is aptly titled because this project covers a diverse range of musical rhythms and beat patterns. For starters, many of the tracks contain acoustic guitar riffs laid over a smooth and crisp beat.
An introduction from DJ Dust kicks off the album followed by "Chain Gang," which has good lyrics but includes a semi-distorted bass riff and, at times, sounds like the beat is skipping in the middle of the song. Fortunately, the music and rhythm improve two tracks later with "Mona Lisa," while featuring guest lyricists, one of them being Playdough of Ill Harmonics. Cultural stereotypes are addressed in "Backwater," accompanied by various percussion instruments, while "Souled Separately" features an old school backdrop with a jazz-like baseline that fits well with Manchild's lyrical flow. After a couple more acoustic guitar-laden tracks ("Tales From Cloud 7" and "My Life"), a phat freestyle is dropped from guest DJ Essence. More 70's style grooves enter the mix on "Another" and "Shuck and Jive" and finally a radio freestyle done to a Notorious B.I.G. sample, among others, closes out the album.
Even though it's not a solid effort and sounds like quite a few of the tracks were recorded in a garage, Sound Methods 2.0 is only a stepping stone in the growing maturity of Mars Ill. In the world of white-boy rap, Mars Ill is sure to join the elite of popular acts such as John Reuben, KJ-52, Ill Harmonics, and TobyMac in creating a hip-hop revolution for a new generation of fans.- Review date: 3/10/05, written by Paul Portell
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