Regarded as great: Clean Guns MP3s
|The mixtape is a vital part of hip hop culture. Analogous to the EP in indie rock, it's an extra opportunity for rappers to experiment, branch out their styles, collaborate with other musicians, and connect with fans on a more immediate basis. A great mixtape, increasingly appearing digitally rather than lining the tarps of Midtown street slingers, can also function as a welcome stopgap between formally marketed releases. But with the ease of delivery, the filler quotient frequently rises and raps unworthy of proper-album release clog an art form already fattened with skits and twenty-song tracklists.|
Leave it to Clean Guns to get it right. After 2006's terrific, criminally slept-on Sometimes There is Trouble, the Philly duo fires back hard with Living In Harmony, a mixtape that demonstrates how it should be done. At twenty-six tracks, it's scattered with highs ("Watch How It Go Down," "Regarded As Great," "Fire in the Booth"), but the album is strong enough that those apices will be different for everyone. What remains permanent throughout this expansive and exhaustive work are Knowledge Don and Zilla Rocca's tight, terse flows, the seamless contributions of potent guests like Black Russian and Professor Anarchy, and the commitment to quality.
At first, I had trouble hearing the midsection of the album where Clean Guns have the gall to rhyme over very famous productions ("Renegade," "Wamp Wamp (What It Do)," "Dead Presidents" et al.). But after a while, the intent became clear to me: as they acknowledge their influences, they're also showing how much they can step up to these iconic tracks and meet their challenge. Their rhymes don't erase the memories of antecedents, but function much like Living In Harmony itself—as valuable addenda, as extensions and reinventions, as declarations of the duo's skills and prowess. Yet again, Clean Guns have asserted their strength and their status as a group very much on the rise. Already, Living In Harmony has me hungry to hear what they'll tackle next, but as an album and as a mixtape, it stands ably on its own two as well.
* MP3: "Watch How It Go Down" - Clean Guns from Living In Harmony
* MP3: "Regarded as Great (The Setup)" - Clean Guns from Living In Harmony [Buy it]
* Band MySpace: Clean Guns
Tags: Clean Guns, Philadelphia, Living In Harmony, hip hop, Beat Garden, MP3