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Real Live - The Turnaround: A Long Awaited Drama

posted on Nov 01, 2005 Real Live - Ain't No Love (Link Expired)
Real Live - Crime Is Money (Link Expired)

Real Live - The Turnaround

Real Live
The Turnaround: A Long Awaited Drama
Big Beat, 1996

The Passaic, New Jeruz native and disciple of Marley Marl known to the world as K-Def could not have chosen a more appropriate year than 1996 to drop his full-length collaboration with Larry-O. Before Real Live was formed, K-Def honed his talents on a number of projects overseen by Marley Marl, including lauded efforts by Lords of the Underground and Da Youngstas. In his early catalogue, he often anchors soaring, majestic, even atmospheric arrangements and movements with plodding, molasses-thick lower end sounds. His trick is to do this in a manner so refined and sensitive to balance and form that the final result feels both otherworldly and warmly familiar. Although his music is rarely groundbreaking, it is tailored and sculpted quite daringly even in its precision, and it represents a euphonious, if unexpected departure from Marley Marl’s essential griminess. One gets the impression that K-Def labors to nail down hip hop’s truly “classic” (or even “classical”) sound without surrendering to the temptation to give the people exactly what they want at the moment.

When Larry-O blesses K-Def’s meticulously crafted beats with his pensive and embattled criminal persona, the result is music that easily transcends the tired ‘96 formula that pairs squeaky clean radio-bound tracks with lyrical content that wavers between gutter explicitness and high-life decadence. At the time many hip hop producers were content to mimic the booming orchestral beats of Buckwild or the instantly recognizable, whistle-clean pop ditties of Puff Daddy. K-Def and Larry-O stand out because they create smoldering, cinematic gangster symphonies as a matter of course, and this is evident in the frantic car chase of the title track and the dramatically funky “Pop The Trunk.” Their music is spellbinding yet cohesive, their chemistry is rehearsed to perfection but feels unforced, and the overall vibe of Turnaround is cool and focused even though the music exudes bombast and the lyrics celebrate excess.

Larry-O’s unshakeable seriousness and K-Def’s commitment to crafting a unified sound for the album while showcasing his versatility allows tracks like the spacey and funky “Crime Is Money” and the deeply soulful “Trilogy Of Error” to coexist peacefully. There are a few songs that approach mediocrity but several carefully placed interlude beats keep the show moving. The album falls just shy of greatness because Larry-O, for all of his authenticity and competence, is hardly a rap-noir genius of Rakewons’s rank. However, his reflective and mournful verses on the immaculate and majestic “Ain’t No Love” drip with sincerity and skill and match the thoughtful elegance of K-Def’s beautiful beatwork. Though it is mired in obscurity, Turnaround should not be denied a month-long stay in your tape deck.

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Comments for "Real Live - The Turnaround: A Long Awaited Drama"

  1. my favourite hip-hop album!!!!
    a true classic like illmatic or follow the leader!!!!
    long live the k-def!!!nuff said!!!
    t-milian    Nov 27, 06:17 AM   
  2. T-milian, did you check out the Theodore Unit album? It’s got some good beats from K-Def on it.
    David    Nov 28, 04:54 PM   
  3. of courz,bro!!!!i got ALL k-def productions!!!K-DEF ist best hip-hop beatmaker!!!
    t-milian    Nov 28, 06:25 PM   
  4. need to put this CD back in print. Old School is where the music is at. Some of this new stuff you can keep in the closet

    Otis West    Nov 30, 09:41 AM   
  5. This album has been a personal favourite since 96. To bad this group was overlooked by many in the game even tho they had a classic album and two well put togethered videos

    Dutch Smirnoff    Dec 11, 03:58 PM   
  6. I keep this in iPod rotation. My joint is Iceberg Slick and the title track. Production on this is so unique. I mean, only thing coming kinda close to this is Only Built for Cuban Linx; maybe Pete Rock and CL’s last joint?

    CoknI O    Dec 30, 11:42 AM   
  7. real hip-hop music right here….all of this new rap sucks and will still until they start really rhyming again like they used to

    Easy1    May 15, 11:29 AM   
  8. First time I’ve seen this album reviewed…definitely an overlooked classic…

    — Patrick    May 19, 12:46 PM   
  9. yeah same here – never seen a review for this in my life – absolute classic album though – you’re spot on though – only downside is Larry O’s monotone flow can get a bit boring sometimes but when he’s on point, he’s ON POINT ! K-Def never fails – that Willie Boo-Boo album is incredible, even though its instrumental – like listening to a story – manage a few emcees and that is ONE DOPE ALBUM to freestyle to – props K-DEF ! one more thing – I love the K-Def showcase outros on both this album and the Lord’s first one – sick !

    monsterislandczar    Sep 14, 11:00 AM   
  10. truely truely one of the best hip-hop album out there! its the shiznit!! bring it back in to production. old school rules!

    dbene1    Feb 28, 10:42 AM   
  11. I agree with the review. The quality of the songs here is very good. And K-Def always come through.

    Antonio    Mar 1, 01:03 PM