UN or U Out
The UN has the type of myth embedded in its history that underground heads instinctively find attractive. Add that to the allure and reputation of main factor, Roc Marciano, UN or U Out becomes a must have. Comparable to The Molemen or MHz Legacy or The Firm, the hip hop community finally get to hear the elements of the myth.
When Pete Rock released Petestrumentals, he only used vocals on two tracks. Pete Rock has the cred and ability to get any top name in the game to spit on his beats. He chose The UN to represent his new shit. Now we hear why they earned that position. Again, Roc Marciano ten years ago is enough reason to purchase, as he spits enigmatic, sparse vocal patterns with twisted linguistics. He also blesses this beast with his production skills on showcase. When he does not supply the beat, The UN has Pete Rock, Oddissee, Large Pro supplying beats. Mike Raw, also of The UN, molds three beats.
The full line up is noted as Roc Marciano, Dino Brave, Mike Raw, and Laku. And they spit ill flows that have inspired rhyme patterns to the upper echelon over the prior decade. The beats harvest boom bap, late ’90s styles that bang hard. Fans of Boot Camp and AOTP should take note. I am a Roc Marc fan, from Marcberg to Reloaded to Marci Beaucoup. His verses on GZA (plus supplying a beat on a different track), Sean Price, CzarFACE; The man paid his dues over the last decade. Here he handles most of the production, but when he doesn’t, the UN has Large Pro (“What they Want”) and Pete Rock supplying beats. A hip hop fan cannot ask for more.
Let’s compare them to Slaugherhouse. A group I do not listen too. Joell Ortiz is probably top 5 for me of the last five to ten years. I buy his full length solo albums and any guest spot he murders. There is no denying the verbal agility and dominance of Royce. Crooked I shows his strength in past raps with social political raps, but I skip when he does his club shit. The group though, leans on Dre/Em production style far too much and neglects the boom bap that propel their solo work. And they clearly get together to go plat and make club songs.
This is where UN shines. They take the semantic superiority and place it over classic tracks.
“Mind Blowin” opens the album properly with a dusty crackle interwoven with a repeating dulcimer like tone and frenetic drum pattern. “DOA” brings the production of a 1970s soul funk bass getting nasty with lush strings and a vocal loop; somewhere between later RZA and EPMD. “Golden Grail” takes a smooth violin and contrasts with a minimal two note piano repeating.
Lyrically, all emcees bring nasty, intricate flows. Multi syllabic bars that have you pressing rewind. Keeping up to the UN is futile; boasting flips, wordplay, and multis relentlessly. The album is not peppered with occasional glory. Track after track is stupendous.
“Murk a vet/ David Berkowitz/ purchase a vest/ merciless/ verse of death/ lay you in the earth to rest/ worship a burnt mess/ learn from the best/ burst a tec/ step” – “Ain’t No Thang”
“it’s a shakedown/ niggas can’t relate now/ feel the (feel the ) breakdown/ jakes got us face down/ taking the crown/ skip town in a big Pontiac brown/ three hub caps and seats lay down”- “Shakedown”
Rare is the complete album in hip hop since the early 2000’s. With rappers trying to follow a formula of a marketable album, they hot sporadically with each track. Plus, considering the distressing movement away from a consistent producer, a permeating, persistent vibe eludes the listener. But having this core of killer rappers spitting ill rhymes and not depending on label mates they never met or a bevy of producers, sticking to that gritty NY sound, The UN delivers a vicious album.