Even though I never received a tape I once ordered from LABTEKWON, his new EP's getting a glowing review from me. The quality of an artist's music should speak louder than that of the artist's distribution mechanism. And LABTEKWON has quality to spare.
The highest-profile MC on Baltimore's decidedly low-profile underground hip-hop scene, LABTEKWON delivers first-class beats and rhymes on his 12-inch EP Champion (Akbar), and he delivers both with high quotients of originality and personality. The production (mostly handled by LABTEKWON himself) is difficult and dense. LABTEKWON'S music never hits you over the head, but seeps further into your brain with each listen. Before you know it, "What the hell?" is replaced with some hard head bumping.
LABTEKWON's sophisticated flow matches the beats blow by blow. A major influence seems to be Dr. Octagon's futuristic faux-science rants. Still, the lyrics are never derivative--even when the subject matter is familiar, this EP's double-time raps and singsong proclamations of "Sucka MCs D.O.A." bear the stamp of unmistakable originality. LABTEKWON kicks old-school wisdom in dismissal of the Wyclef/Cannibus-L.L. Cool J feud one minute, then one-ups all your-momma jokes with a dis on your grandmother the next.
Remember when "dope" meant the blazing, layered noise of Public Enemy, not the too-slick pop/rock thievery of Puff Daddy? Remember when MC status was judged by lyrical prowess, not tired images of material wealth? So does LABTEKWON. Does Baltimore have more MCs of this caliber? If so, let's hear from them.