NOTE: This album isn't available nationally yet (I think the official release is set for 2008) but I got a copy a while back and wanted to offer my opinion. Enjoy the "pre"-view.
However, Soldiers On a Mission (S.O.M.) is hoping you’ll bypass triteness for tightness with a freshened “revisit” of their Journey LP you might have missed a few years ago.
While the first run was purely independent, this version has the backing and budget of the larger Much Luvv Records label and adds high-profile guest spots to reworked tracks from Journey 1.0. Thankfully, for fans who feel they are being asked to make an unnecessary repurchase, there are also new heat treats added to it.
* There are lots of chants and soulfully sung hooks that no doubt lend themselves to energy-packed, crowd-participatory live performance versions.
Fans of self-feuding rappers from the A-T-L will become S.O.M. enthusiasts after a minimal amount of spins.
The newness includes “Certified Grinders” with underground mainstream legend Lil Keke, then “Real,” and “U Don’t Know Me Like Dat” that both feature Much Luvv’s strategic lyricist Icece. All of them can be considered blazers (with polished production from the likes of Bruce Bang) that could easily find a home on any modern rap playlist. (Take notes radio DJs!)
Other songs are updated versions of solid tracks from the first Journey. The beat backgrounds are occasionally tweaked, but most of the changes come in the addition of a guest verse.
Harmonizing thug Bizzy Bone drops a spiritual bomb on “Jump Back Remix”and Pettidee gets gully on “We Ain’t Leavin’.”
But like any voyage, there are a few minor missteps along the path. The radio skits with D-Solo are more informative than entertaining and don’t add much overall value. And the rap/rock attempted remake of P.O.D.’s “Youth of a Nation” is simply a limped biscuit that shouldn’t have made the final cut.
Soldier fans that enjoyed the first Journey will love this. To feel ripped off by purchasing this re-vision is preposterous. And anyone who missed out on the first expedition should secure a ticket and enjoy this new ride.
* AUTHOR’S NOTE: I had considered calling it “intellicrunk” but that fad seems to have passed. I also realized it was more of an attempt by this writer to employ some cutesy wordplay instead of providing an accurate description of the sound. In the end my intellect overpowered my ego. I’m sure you (and S.O.M.) are grateful.
[ FULL DISCLOSURE: Yep, that’s me playing the role of a court reporter (a stretch for Sketch, I know) in S.O.M.’s video for “U Don’t Know Me Like Dat” and yes, I do consider the fellas friends.
Nonetheless, I reviewed the first Journey before that relationship gained its present depth and it seems only fitting for me to provide an opinion on the album’s “rerelease.”
I’ve attempted to be as fair and impartial as possible. If your interpretation of my words above leads you to believe this is a hot project it’s because that’s the plain truth and not any sort of preferential bias.]
Find S.O.M. online at: http://www.myspace.com/soldiersonamission