How does the underdog know when his time has come to win? After cultivating a decade-long career steadily streaming relevant recordings slightly below the radar and building their reputation as reliable "to flow fierce and witty over all-time classic tracks," (epitomic.com 08/01), Styles of Beyond has put in the work and is ready to make their mark. Finally, these underground champions are poised to take their message to the masses. Being the underdog helps build character. It also makes success that much sweeter.
Well-known and respected among hardcore hip-hop heads, MCs Ryu and Takbir and producers DJ Cheapshot and Vin Skully earned their stripes from their famed appearances on the Wake Up Show - a breeding ground for respected rhymers and supreme lyricists, including Eminem, Jay-Z and The Notorious B.I.G. What followed are two landmark independent albums, the visionary debut 2000 Fold and seething follow-up Megadef. Indeed, the group's exceptional, genre-busting work with producers Divine Styler (Everlast, Swollen Members), The Crystal Method (Ryu was the voice of the group's hit single, "Name Of The Game"), as well as legendary beatsmith J Dilla (Busta Rhymes, Common), has set the stage for SOB's breakthrough.
After reconnecting with longtime friend, Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park, SOB contributed their signature rhymes on several tracks from Shinoda's Fort Minor album, including the single "Remember The Name." With this, an international tour to Asia, Europe, United States and Australia soon followed. Performing in front of tens of thousands of fans, SOB gained legions of followers and invaluable experience. Now, the quartet has the perfect platform and increased visibility as they work on their breakout album, title TBD.
"The album cleverly flirts with the concept of opposites - playful and militant, which is based upon everyday ironies," Takbir says. Ryu adds, "There's a side to us that wants to vent. We let it out." Although still in-progress, the album covers those angles and everything in between. Building off of a 1950's song, "Damn" features Ryu and Takbir detailing the ironic twists and turns of their musical careers, while on the jocular "Sugar Honey Iced Tea," the duo bounces to an anxious beat, detailing things that make you do a double-take - much like the title's acronym.
Clearly, the aim of the album is about the juxtaposition of opposites. The album promises to be the best of both hip-hop worlds: it promises to make the casual rap fan nod in enjoyment while garnering the respect of the most discerning underground heads. A relentless pummeling of carefully constructed bangers with a fundamentalist hip-hop heart, the collection features a multitude of enjoyable extremes: gunplay meets old-school references; comedy meets aggressiveness; lyrical technicality meets belligerent drunkenness. Without ever losing sight of its distinctive brand of hip-hop, SOB has something for everyone.
The album sets a new hip-hop standard - with straight skills and a focused mind on the craft and concept of each song. Styles Of Beyond's driving, drum-based production and the exciting interplay between the lyrically adventurous Ryu and Takbir, who are comfortable rapping about aliens, emotion, or microphone prowess, sets the stage for the reclamation of hip-hop.
"We figured we wanted to use this opportunity to make a statement rather than use it to do what everybody else is doing," Ryu says. "Our goal is to change the game. That's been our intention since the beginning, to do something different." "I think the Machine Shop camp sees that in us," adds DJ Cheapshot. "Rather than us just being this cookie-cutter rap group, they're seeing a bigger picture and seeing us as hopefully one of the groups on the forefront knocking down barriers and stepping over the lines, doing something revolutionary."
The impending release of the highly anticipated 2007 album promises to deliver the genre-stretching, innovative music that helped make SOB underground champions. These underdogs are about to have their day.
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