Album Review: Koncept, Awaken
When looking at legendary groups throughout Hip-Hop history, two main elements become crystal clear: a strong in-house production team and a roster stacked with talented emcees. Collectives such as The Juice Crew and Diggin’ in the Crates exemplified the aforementioned credentials in the most incredible ways possible; however, that was the past tense, and in the present tense, cliques like the Brown Bag All-Stars are making seismic waves throughout the Hip-Hop community. Koncept is one of the lyricists that Brown Bag brings to the table, and if his debut album Awaken is a just a small sample of what we can expect from the New York City cooperative, it’s no surprise that East Coast legends like DJ Premier are giving them a co-sign.
With the exception of a few tracks, the bulk of production is handled by the in-house production team of J57 and The Audible Doctor; these two guys blow my mind with every new revelation of their sound, and the instrumental melodies on Awaken are a no different.
From the opening verse of the album’s lead and title track, Koncept makes it brutally obvious that this album is going to be very personal:
“So I’ve been walking on a thin rope a hundred feet plus/they say never look down, but it’s probably even worse looking up/blinded by the sun, but dad never shared the same/guess it could be a good thing/his death is what sacred me straight”.
One of the standout tracks on the album is “Watch the Sky Fall”, and the thing that makes this song so impressive (besides Marco Polo’s beat) is Koncept’s ability to spit bar-for-bar with one of the greatest emcees in the game – Royce Da 5’9″; this track alone makes the album worth purchasing. Koncept’s witty wordplay and poignant punchlines prove the point that he’s not to be taken lightly.
J57 does an incredible job of lacing “Aspirations” with an extraordinarily laid back beat filled with smooth strings and vivacious vocal samples; furthermore, Soul Kahn’s catchy hook adds yet another great element to an already incredible track.
The one track on Awaken that hit me the hardest is “Save Me”. The conscientiously crafted canvas by The Audible Doctor incorporates somber strings and a sentimental vocal sample that enables Koncept to paint a vivid image of his past:
“I didn’t ask for this crash course/didn’t know it would last long/my path track/get a flash back of that bad storm/dad wore this jacket on his travels of his passport/tracks that followed got stuck in his bad arm…”
“…My pops died the day before my fourth/but decided to have bought me ten years before I was born/see, twenty years with mom/but in rehab for two thirds/Linda versus heroin/guess which one he chose first/I’m telling you it’s helped me through and taught me self-perspective/step, tripped and fell but got up to tell direction…”
There’s really only one gripe that I can even bring up when talking about Awaken: it’s just over thirty-two minutes long; however, Shakespeare once said “brevity is the soul of wit”, and in Koncept’s case, this statement holds a great deal of weight. On the inside, Awaken is a dark descent into one man’s mind, but on the outside, it’s an illuminated vision into the future of the East Coast Hip-Hop scene.