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Monday, September 20, 2010

Echoreview: Deaf Judges' High Honorable

All hail the Deaf Judges, one of Athens' best known rap/ hip hop groups! It's crazy to think that, as close as we are to Atlanta, groups of this genre are actually incredibly rare in this town. But even if they were surrounded by a huge crowd of rappers, Deaf Judges would certainly stand out. Their sound differs markedly from most of the hip hop and rap artists that pepper the pop music charts today. The Judges' intelligent and sometimes introspective lyrics put focus on the story and poetry of the words rather than just on one repeated line set to a dance beat. Their unique style always leaves fans begging for more at their shows.

In late June, they released the first of three albums this year that will showcase their talents. So how does the High Honorable stack up?

Kill Creek starts off the trend of smart aleck lyrics, intermixing these words with cool sound effects and borrowed lines from other mediums. Then Time Bandits flies in on the wings of a haunting ghostly chorus backed by sci-fi style melodies. Filled with amusing pop culture references, this one is definitely my favorite on the album.

Ghost Trap comes next with an old-time sound which hearkens back to days long past. How fitting for a song about the so-called death of hip hop! This tune transitions effortlessly into Women Got Weapons, a song which brings us straight back to the present day and to more common subjects. After all, what is a hip hop album without one track dedicated to all of the sexy women on the dance floor?

Now I'm not sure if The Big Heist is supposed to be a follow-up track to Weapons, but I have to say, as a short composition of violent and sexual human sounds mixed with piano and hints of an assortment of other instruments, it was really quite terrifying. That Ain't a Knife, on the other hand, returns to the storytelling style found earlier in the album, layered over a movement-inducing beat. I very much enjoyed this tune. Then Louie adds another old time track to the mix, influenced by several different genres and infused with sound bites from all kinds of songs.

The aptly-named tune The Getaway Beat finishes off the album with an uplifting track of ambient sounds set to an endless beat. Quite the compilation, I must say! I eagerly await the release of the other two albums. And if you'd like to check out High Honorable for yourself, don't hesitate to visit the Deaf Judges' website right here!

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