Styles of Beyond – Reseda Beach Review
The careers of members of Styles of Beyond has been a very turbulent one in the music industry. For years the group consisting of emcees Ryu and Tak seemed to be on the verge of breaking through to the mainstream. After a loud underground buzz they were heavily featured on the album The Rising Tied by Fort Minor (Mike Shinoda’s rap alias). With the success of the album and the friendship with Shinoda, the group signed to Shinoda’s label at Warner Brothers and began crafting their major label debut which was to be released in 2007. However after label head changes, the album was left in limbo and which caused Ryu and Tak to go their separate ways (mainly out of frustration with the music industry).
After many years, Ryu along with longtime friend Apathy, were able to secure the album rights from Warner and release the album in its original format. Does the album stand the test of time and show that major labels know nothing about good music when it comes to hip hop, or should the album have been left in the scrap pile?
1.) Here We Go (Produced by Scoop Deville)
2.) Hard (Produced by J. Dilla)
3.) Sugar Honey Iced Tea (Produced by Vin Skully & Co-Produced by Cheapshot)
4.) Take That f/ Celph Titled (Produced by Aqua)
5.) Call My Name (Produced by Apathy)
6.) Bumble Bee (Skit) Starring Alex 2Tone
7.) The Pirate Song (Produced by Vin Skully & Co-Produced by Apathy)
8.) Damn (Produced by Vin Skully & Co-Produced by Cheapshot)
9.) Dumb It Down (Produced by Apathy & Co-Produced by Mike Shinoda)
10.) Howdy Doody (Produced by Cheapshot & Co-Produced by Vin Skully)
11.) Live from Ibiza (Skit) Starring Alex 2Tone
12.) You Love Us f/ Somaya Reece (Produced by Vin Skully)
13.) Shut Everything Down f/ Celph Titled (Produced by Vin Skully & Co-Produced by Apathy)
14.) Dunky Fividends f/ Apathy (Produced by Vin Skully)
15.) Second To None f/ Mike Shinoda (Produced by Mike Shinoda)
16.) The Valley (Outro) Starring Alex 2Tone
Right from the get go, the album comes out of the gate strong with the Scoop Deville produced “Here We Go” which has Ryu and Tak sounding as if the track was created yesterday. If you thought that the long delay would have caused the album to feel dated then this intro type song really curbs your feel, with Tak spitting lines”
“I’m really sitting pretty on this escalade, I’m riding up
Till I burn this city, what a pity for the fire trucks
Fellas seem to think we up and vanished in the mist, nope
Now we back SOS, panic at the disco
Ya, open up the curtain now I’m at the scene,
Alive and I don’t need to red bull to give me wings
Ever since I had the dream floating above me,
I’ve been following my success as a token of study
Killer rap locks in the fitted cap, peeling you chinchillas so ones iller, split them with the axe
Alright then, can I get some like dam
Put your hands together for the Fort Minor hypemen,
On the road, sipping Jack before the show,
Never know which way theses tricky dice are going to roll,
Here we go, get it while you can bro, grand finale from the valley, smile for the camera.”
While “Here We Go” had the group rhyming in familiar territory, the track “Hard” has the group somewhat expanding their sound on the aptly produced track from the late J. Dilla. It is a shame that this album faced so many delays, as many people may think that this track was produced after Dillas passing. Additionally, it somewhat curbed any later collaboration, which likely would have happened after the popularity that this track will likely receive in the underground. The flow and rhymes by the group fits right over Dilla’s production and the thought that they could have worked together more often is sad.
While the album does hold together well, there are some definite ‘mainstream’ sounding tracks on the album. The most obvious seems to be the very strange sounding Pirate Song, which is about Ryu and Tak getting as drunk as a Pirate. The track lacks the regular character of the group and even though I think it was supposed to be more of a comedy song, ala “Got Some Teeth” by Obie Trice, it somewhat fails on all levels. As well the first single “Damn” is a vanilla type track, that is a decent mainstream track, but unfortunately the album version lacks that punch found on the promo single which has Micheal Buble providing the hook. While Buble absence was due to the album not being released on Warner brothers, after hearing the original, the album version is nowhere near as good. Additionally this is one of the few songs that feels dated, where the group mainly spits lines such as “signed to Machine Shop, Warner got my back now”.
While the minor missteps the group likely was pressured to make for the major label somewhat leave a skippable section in the middle of the album, the front and back ends of the album more than make up for it. The Apathy produced “Dumb It Down” has the group making fun of themselves for dumbing down their songs for the mainstream, and even samples the Trashmen’s Surfin Bird (mostly made famous by Peter Griffin’s Bird is the Word from Family Guy). Tracks like “Howdy Doody” and “Sugar Honey Ice Tea” again will have longtime fans of the group happy, as the Vin Skully & Cheapshot produced track will have heads nodding to the rapid fire flows of Ryu and Tak. Closing the album, the track “Second To None” featuring Mike Shinoda, really reminds fans of the chemistry that the group had with Shinoda and of what could have happened had Shinoda had more label clout or fought harder for the group.
In the end Ryu and Tak made a mainstream album that will still satisfy their longtime fans and really do prove that major labels know nothing about hip hop music. I really think with the right marketing push the album and group could have been a great success. While there are some flaws, you still have to give credit to Ryu and Tak for releasing the album as it was, the way it should have been heard. Hopefully the release of this album, will be someone of a rebirth for the group, who reportedly have been back in the studio working on some new tracks. If the group can get back to where they were without this album, hip hop and music and general will be very fortunate.
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The 411: The group finally released their major label debut, and the result is an album that will still satisfy their longtime fans and really do prove that major labels know nothing about hip hop music. The chemistry that Ryu and Tak have on the mic, is something that is rarely found in hip hop. While there are some flaws, you still have to give credit to Ryu and Tak for releasing the album as it was, the way it should have been heard.
|Final Score: 8.5 [ Very Good ] legend|