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Artist: Beat Rabbi & Deepspace 5
Label: Illect Recordings
Length: 22 Tracks / 63:21

Have you ever wanted to time travel? Do you love relevant, conscious, thinking-man's hip-hop? If you answered "YES!" to both of those questions, Beat Rabbi and Deepspace 5 have concocted the perfect cure for your ailments in the form of their late-2007 Illect Recordings release cleverly entitled Deepspace5oul.

Made up of 22 tracks, about 10 of which are interludes (some are short songs, some are instrumental) - the record is jam-packed with more Deepspace 5 than you can handle. Recorded during the summer of 2003 prior to their sophomore release Unique, Just Like Everyone Else, Deepspace5oul is a blast from the past equivalent to the manic time-travel episodes of Bill Watterson's classic serialized comic strip Calvin & Hobbes. The album gives us an unique presentation of the DS5 crew since it is the only release to feature singular production. Where all other DS5 releases have featured production from DJ Dust and Manwell, as well as rappers Fred Bruno, Playdough, and others (highlighting the multi-disciplinary talent of the crew), Beat Rabbi handles all of the beats on this project with only supplementary scratching and the like from others. 

Thus, Deepspace5oul is an interesting side-release of the crew that highlights the excellent sounds coming out of Rabbi's lab as well as sharing some circa-2004 raps from the crew. This is a remarkable listening experience for any fan of the group; the lyrics are excellent as always, amd you can really hear by contrast just how much some of the guys' vocals have improved since then. It's a study in improvement and change, in that sense.

Musically, Rabbi sends up some of his best work ever on Deepspace5oul, sampling and fusing extensively from sounds such as soul, jazz, funk, and breaks - harking back to that classic (and rightly so) 1990's rap sound. Sonically, the album traverses a wide landscape of areas - from full horn sections tickling your subconscious ("Deepspace 5oul") to brilliant vocal tracks forming the backbone of a beat ("Beautiful") to amazing bassline-driven rhythms ("On A Side Note"), Deepspace5oul is an exercise in production excellence. It's plain that much time and thought and perfectionism was focused on this project, and the results are quite frankly thrilling.

Lyrically, the DS5 crew brings it as tight as they always have. Hearing new-to-us verses from almost 5 years ago is a very interesting experience, as it not only highlights the great strides of improvement made since (which has already been mentioned), but also just how amazing DS5 was even prior to that forward progress. Most notable is when the difference isn't really even in the realm of "improvement" but of just plain difference - see The Listener's verses, which definitely sound much more akin to his more traditional Whispermoon and The Night We Called It A Day style than to his present manifestation as heard and enjoyed on Ozark Empire or Return to Struggleville. Overall, between the shiny verses and the smart choruses, there's food-for-thought and phonetic wonder here for weeks of repeated listens.

With the recent release of Bake Sale (an EP by DS5 standards at 10 tracks) and Greatest Beats & Unreleased (a b-sides and beat record), both in 2008, as well as 2009's soon-coming and much-anticipated third album The Future Ain't What It Used To Be, it's becoming clearer than ever that Deepspace 5 is one of rap's undisputed supernovas of talent and an incredible machine that churns out hip-hop happiness in a way few other crews could ever hope to come near.

Deepspace5oul is a blast from the past that seems carefully designed from the top down to remind us that Deepspace 5 pumps out quality, mind-and-heart-blowing hip-hop not only in the present and future, but the past as well. If you love rap and time-travel, you owe it to yourself to pick this puppy up and let it explore your soul with sound.

Standout Tracks:  Deepspace 5oul, Beautiful, On A Side Note, Double Dog Dare You, Downtown Connects, Say Yeah.

Jerry Bolton
January 10, 2009


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