Alan C. Duncan & Foster – “Eyes Like Fire”
Reviewed by: Neil Christian
Rating: 7.8 (Out of 10)
Music has a timeless quality to it. People who concede that music is subjective often miss the glaring fact that good music touches every soul, regardless of their individual taste and is often universally acclaimed as such. In our little corner of hip-hop, it is a universally agreed upon fact that the 90’s era was the golden age of hip-hop and at the forefront were albums that often featured one emcee/one producer combo. These types of albums, although once a staple in hip-hop from the east coast to the west coast, have seen a steady decline over the years. However, good music never dies and Alan C. Duncan (rapper) and Foster (producer) prove that splendidly.
Kicking this party off is the theme song, appropriately titled Cinémathèque. The sample that kicks things off escapes me. I think it’s a sample from a movie soundtrack (maybe Alan or Foster can confirm?), a well-produced joint that both gives a solid introduction to the rapper and gives breathing room for the producer to showcase his talents as well. A great start to the album. Keeping the great music flowing, the title song, Eyes like Fire, features a great live flute. This is just great music. It also seems that Foster has been heavily influenced by 9th Wonder which is a marvelous thing to hear.
In fact the whole album is produced well. There are no cotton candy tracks here. Just take That Vibe (So Live) which is a pure hip-hop record with chopped up looped strings quite reminiscent of 9th Wonder. Or consider the Let the Minutes Pass which feels like it would be perfectly at home on a Pete Rock record or a 9th Wonder record. In fact, the whole album is like a tribute to classic hip hop. This is so rare in CHH these days and it is a breath of fresh air. Much of CHH sounds the same with no variety in the top 10 tracks, from the beat to bpm to the synths; much of CHH is just bad music.
Lyrically Alan does a very good job on the tracks. But often it seems as if he’s just keeping up with the production, not murdering it. I guess Foster has done such a phenomenal job on the production tip, that most rappers would have a tough time writing to the tracks. However Alan does do a great job, as exemplified on One For Your City, telling a great story of his city but fashioning it in such a manner that he could be talking about any city. Some ills of society are universal.
Truthfully after the many dismal projects of 2011 I was ready to declare CHH is dead but my hope has been revived after this project. There were some complaints such as the mixing could have been better so the flute was more distinct, sharper snares and such but that is just being nitpicky. However, the fumbles of the record can be forgotten and now let us take a minute to acknowledge the existence of pure good music that plucks at the heart’s strings and touches the soul, lifting the soul from whatever misery and transporting it to another world. Now that is Hip-Hop.
1. Music – 9
2. Flow – 7
3. Creativity / Originality – 9
4. Relevancy – 7
5. Content & Character – 8
6. Credibility & Confidence – 7
7. Personality – 9
8. Presentation Quality –7
9. Overall Production Quality – 7
10. Potential Impact – 8