QWEL & MAKER - The Harvest
Prior to this album, Qwel was mostly known as one of the Typical Cats, a rap trio who had helped making Galapagos4 a central label, in Chicago's indie world. His two albums, If It Ain't Been In a Pawn Shop... and The Rubber Duckie Experiment, had also collected praises in the underground. As for Maker, he had authored Honestly, a semi-instrumental record, and produced Seconds Away, another great album recorded jointly with DJ DQ and the rapper Adeem, under the name of Glue.
Having them collaborating on a full-length project was anything but a surprise. Qwel and Maker, indeed, were coming from the same circles. Actually, they had already recorded a song together, available on Honestly. And Maker had produced some tracks – the best, most of the time – on Galapagos4's most recent releases. However, The Harvest – the first of a series of projects named according to the four seasons, Vivaldi-style – was some kind of revolution. Finally, Qwel was finding the solid beatmaker he was missing, the one who would fit his style the best. As a result, he would be outstanding all along this new album, declaiming without a pause his relentless kind of rap, previously perfected in freestyles and MC battles.
Whatever he was doing - commenting the current state of hip-hop ("The IT In Keeping It Real"), disparaging his country ("The Siren of Liberty Island") or the mass media ("The Network"); successively critical and sarcastic, tearful ("Ugly Hungry Puppy", "Ruby Ragdollenne"), and in love ("Where I Go, There I Go"); moving from spoken word to double time; expressive, sensitive, but not "emo" - Qwel was almost flawless. He knew how to play with samples and loops. He knew when to let them go, or when to interrupt or mistreat them. His voice had various tones, and Maker's beats used plenty of instruments, but none of this was garish.
The Harvest was one of these marvels, underground hip-hop was able to produce in the 2000's. It was lost classic, released by two unsung heroes, talented enough to be respected in the indie world, but not demagogic enough to reach a larger audience. Their formula, actually, was not exactly new, it was deeply rooted in the 90's; but it was close to perfection. Together, Qwel and Maker had released a very rare album in rap music: a highly delectable one, from the first to the final track.
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