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Siah and Yeshua
The Visualz EP
Fondle ‘Em Records, 1996
DJ Bobbito Garcia’s Fondle ‘Em label was one of the bigger names among a small group of mid-late 90s indie stalwarts that helped to ensure the perpetuity of an NYC-based underground hip-hop scene in the days following an industry-wide major label purge of “urban” acts and imprints. Among numerous other accomplishments, Fondle ‘Em rescued the Juggaknots from contractual limbo and brought K.M.D. back. Not surprisingly, many if not most of Fondle ‘Em releases are sought-after collectibles with price tags that continue to increase in direct proportion to the pervasiveness of their legends. The Visualz EP is one such recording, perhaps more renowned for its rarity than its musical quality.
All vinyl nerd matters aside, Visualz is a solid, ambitious, and highly enjoyable piece of music. It is not, however, the major coup that many have made it out to be, unless you consider a slightly more bookish and at times laconic take on Camp-Lo’s cryptic, allusive word flurries to be a forward concept. The two Brooklynite emcees display decent chemistry, passing the mic back and forth in an unending game of one-upmanship. Like Camp-Lo, Siah and Yeshua aim to catch wreck by way of polyrhythmic smoothness; the usage of jazz samples sensibly complements this mission. The EP’s format resemble a 70s fusion release by the likes of Herbie Hancock, with the eleven-minute surrealist romp “A Day Like Any Other” serving as the longer suite composed of varying movements.
The rhyming is highly competent, if not especially distinct, and while neither Siah and Yeshua rap melodically per se, their vocals appear to have been delivered with an acute sensitivity to the swing and flow of the music. The duo’s warm, unassuming voices serve as euphonious, undistracting accompaniments to the more densely layered tracks. Their rhymes are highly studied and rehearsed but one can easily locate an improvisational spirit in the duo’s stream-of-consciousness riffing. The EP is not wholly consistent, as “No Sole’s Dopest Opus” and “Gravity” are vastly superior to the songs that tackle more accessible themes, but The Visualz is most certainly worth a listen if you can hunt down a copy.