Hip Hop albums are increasingly falling into one of two danger zones: the ‘throwback’ and ‘future’ piles. The synthetic bubblegum sound of hip pop has forced the burgeoning mainstream movement of ‘real’ hip hop back into the underground, and a casualty of that effect seems to be the pushing in one of the two directions, both of which sound, ironically, as cliched as what they’re trying to escape. Well, this album is the antidote.
classic boom bap and avant garde, spacey beats go hand in hand
14 tracks and 14 producers (an impressive roster, including Exile, Oddisee, Eric Lau, Kev Brown and more) should make this LP feel a bit disjointed, but the direction is fantastic and everything gels together with real panache as classic boom bap and avant garde, spacey beats go hand in hand and result in an LP that sounds fresh throughout. Has-Lo has an impressively broad content spectrum; he doesn’t exhibit a particularly impressive flow or delivery – despite both being tight – but listening to all of Conversation B never feels like hearing the same song over a different beat. A production technique of note is the treatment of vocals in many of the songs – from the distortion in tracks like Face in Disguise to the slight echo tap on Retro Chic, it really reinforces the general feeling of Conversation B being a fully conceived album, rather than an emcee jumping on 14 of his favourite beats and pressing record.