Friday, September 9, 2016

Ryu stands on his own two feet well in 'Tanks For The Memories'

Tanks For The Memories by Ryu
If there is one thing that West Coast hip-hop is not short on, it’s groups. Since the golden era days, crews were springing up like mushrooms, especially in Cali where early groups like N.W.A, Compton’s Most Wanted, Cypress Hill and Digital Underground gave way to Hobo Junction, the Hieroglyphics and the Souls of Mischief who themselves were soon joined by peers from Freestyle Fellowship, Living Legends, Project Blowed, Abstract Tribe Unique, Strong Arm Steady and still other posses.
From the San Fernando Valley came another clan during the late 1990s. The four-member Styles of Beyond gathering, made up of emcees Ryu and Tak, DJ Cheapshot and producer Vin Skully, have released three LPs since 1998, the last of which, an excellent double disc offering entitled Reseda Beach, dropped in 2012 on Dirty Version Records. Now Ryu has decided to spread his wings and depart from the nest, as he takes flight in Tanks For The Memories, his new solo album out Friday, Sept 9, on Wildlife Records.
In “Radio Pollution,” we figure out that Ryu and his guests are strictly out to offer hardcore backpack rhymes with support from Gravity Christ and old school great Divine Styler (yes, Divine Styler) plus a mix of Pink Floyd’s “Hey You” and Clyde Stubblefield’s “Funky Drummer,” in that song. If your thing is authentic bar-spitting, you’ll definitely like if not love this album.
With production from the Styler himself and others, fun samples (anyone up for the Charlie Brown “Christmas Time Is Here” theme in “I Did It To Myself”?) and recognizable hip-hop catchphrases and sayings scattered throughout, Tanks For The Memories is a respectful ode to the craft, just good stalwart rap. It talks straight from the gut like in “The Devil Got A Plan,” a commentary on misguided kids, deranged new artists and poor partner choices.
The remaining guests include Jams, Bishop Lamont, Rhyme Syndicate and House of Pain veteran Everlast, Tak and Celph Titled so you know it’s going to sound beastly. The rapping is so hearty that you can almost see the veins popping out of Ryu’s neck as he spits so there is no lack of substance in that department, but there is also a default for impressive verbal linguistics over controversy and risk-taking, which Tanks needs more of. It’s not gonna make many people feel uneasy or rethink their lives in other words. Its final grade therefore is a slightly above average one.
3 out of 5 stars

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