Darrell Ford
staff writer
January 05, 2006
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Rock Music Reviews
Now On
From Now On...

Now On is the epitome of what underground hip-hop aspires to be. Comprised of emcees IX Lives and Jax, and backed by DJ Haircut, the trio describes themselves as "forward-thinking," but their ability to look backwards is just as important. Evincing soul, jazz, and funk influences [as befits a proper hip-hop outfit] Now On realizes a vision many of today’s socially conscious rappers simply can't achieve.

From Now On... features complex and involving loops, minimal sampling, ethereal backing vocals [including an appearance from your own conscience on the album closer], and the pleasing juxtaposition of socially conscious lyrics with party vibes. The beats incorporate drums and trumpets that play as well live as they do on the album. The beat from "A.D" [American Dream] features a beat [and horns] that could easily overshadow the track’s political bent, but both lyrics and beat are catchy enough to encourage sufficient spins and ingrain themselves in the listener's head. That same head will nod almost continuously for the rest of the beats.

It’s tough to criticize socially conscious or positive raps simply because, even in the underground, such rhymes take a backseat to gangster themes. But with the exception of a few non-rhymes ["expecting life to treat you well 'cuz you're a good person is like expecting angry bulls not to charge vegetarians"], the delivery on this disk doesn’t take a backseat to the emcees=' messages. They require more from their less enlightened peers, demanding "nothing you says movin' me, stop that shit entirely." About half of the EP is spent reconciling the idea of being positive musician and a positive person in general. The sentiment appears throughout the disk, as on the song Searchin': "Hip-hop has a purpose more than circus, ask yourself what are we searchin' for?" On other tracks they denounce selling out, assembly-line albums, and music without a message. But Now On isn’t only asking other acts to rediscover the true meaning of hip-hop – they’ve presented a path. One of the best Michigan releases in 2005, From Now On… sets a high standard for the rest of the scene and for the album they are recording now.

Release date: June 22, 2005
Label: Tellfunkigence Music
Rating: 9.0 / 10

On the web: http://nowonmusic.com/
[RMR]