Virginia-based emcees Awon & Dephlow destroy eleven dope beats from Portland producer Phoniks; who’s heavy hitting boom-bap steez reminds of Marco Polo’s modern take on Premo and Large Pro. Nearly every track is straight underground realness, with choruses that give the DJ his props as he contorts classic rap samples between rhymes with a clear respect for the culture. Once the intro sets the tone; the title track begins with ill samples to create that traditional tone, before Phonik’s neat, Babu-style string chops elevate Real Hip Hop with quality lyricism that reflects the Knowledge Of Self that influenced so many influential 90’s artists, and some choice words for industry rappers;‘Wearing women’s clothes, got the nerve to say you kill it with ya tapered hipster jeans talkin bout you pays the scrilla, emasculated game, need some hair on your facial, keep that molly out your nasal, I’m here to replace you.’
Step Up swaps the heavy attack for chilled tones and mellow rhymes, with Drake, Kendrick, and Future in the lyrical rifle sights on this stand out track, as the emcee’s place integrity over celebrity; while Introducing utilizes Big L and Mobb Deep cuts over a brash brass beat that stomps. As F Draper takes over the boards for a dope guest instrumental on Lights Off, the MC’s rhyme styles take the album down a less credible path. Why’d you’d make five songs about real Hip Hop then imitate the mainstream delivery of the rappers you were just dissing is beyond me, even with the chilled beat, the track’s rendered damn-near unlistenable if you don’t rate that ubiquitous staccato style that has kids thinking lyricism is stilted bars about snapbacks. You Can Run sets things back on course with a return to the quality rhymes the pair exhibited earlier; before the slow burning soul groove of Sucka Free sees Phoniks select alternate chops from a well-worn sample source.
After a shaky middle, the trio somewhat regain their flow with The War Room,You Know My Name and a Sucka Free remix, that takes the tune back to the smoother side of the 90’s and close the album off strong. If you’re guna make a shit-related LP with three grown men crapping on the cover you better make sure it’s not shit, and with Dephacation the trio achieved that. Despite the quality dropping for a minute at the half way mark, and Awon’s positive bars occasionally clashing against Dephlow’s derogatory rhymes, the album still serves up a slice of raw Hip Hop that’s well worth checking out for fans of the golden era sound.
Get the album digitally or on wax here.