Album Reviews

Outerspace – Blood & Ashes

(babygrande) UK release date: 30 August 2004

Some might say it was written in the stars that these two MCs would meet and make music together. Planetary and Crypt The Warchild grew up in the same North Philly neighbourhood and have been best friends since forever. Years of mashing it up on the local underground circuit have built a solid buzz around them and this debut release looks set to secure them their place in the Philly hall of hip hop fame.

Blood and Ashes is the culmination of six long years of hard work and standing in the shadows of Jedi Mind Tricks‘ success, virtually ignored by the local press and unable to give up their day jobs to concentrate on their first love.

Together they have created an album that distinguishes their sound from that of their closest musical cohorts while remaining true to the classic hip hop sound of their hometown. Blood and Ashes simultaneously succeeds in proving their individuality and paying due respect to the crew that has supported them all the way.

Babygrande is one of the scene’s most progressive independent labels, boasting releases from a dazzling array of hip hop icons including Jedi Mind Tricks and Canibus and making it Outerspace’s natural home. A taster release was strategically released in May to pave the way for their debut to drop like a proper hip hop bomb. This is a label that pioneers hip hop without the bling bulls**t, and with their backing Outerspace have developed a sound reminiscent of the raw rap of the late ’80s and ’90s when dope beats and even doper rhymes ruled.

From the brooding beats of opener, the moodily-titled Brute Force, the closeness between the two MCs is palpable. Their fiery Puerto Rican flows complement each other perfectly as they communicate their views on everything from their Latino heritage to war and the street culture that spawned them. The honesty of their outpourings gives the album a distinct nervous energy with heartfelt bars such as Crypt’s admission on Fire And Ice that: “I wouldn’t even know how to live without my kid, my wiz, my crib, my ice, without a chance to uplift and spit precise.”

The end result of their blood, sweat and hunger for success is 16 quality tracks all recorded on the East coast with a little help from their friends. Despite an occasionally tedious lack of diversity, the majority are bursting with a raw lyricism, Puerto Rican pride and gloriously dirty beats.

A slew of talented guest stars step up to the mic including underground intellectual MC Immortal Technique who closes the album on the brooding Angels of Death, old-skool stalwart Brand Nubian‘s frontman, Sadat X, and of course their main man, Vinnie Paz who transforms Blades of Glory into one of the album’s stand-out tracks.

Blood and Ashes marks Outerspace’s evolution from prot�g�s to fully fledged musical maestros. A glittering array of underground guest stars combines with classic beats and their distinctive rhyming style to produce one of the most exciting debuts to emerge from the East coast in a long time.

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Outerspace – Blood & Ashes