Two years after their last release, Water For Mars, Florida hip-hop group CYNE is back with another album for hip-hop heads all over. Wasteland, Vol. 1 is definitely not your typical hip-hop album. Running close to an hour long, the album is probably better classified as a beat tape, and an amazing one at that. And while Cise Star does indulge us with some great verses and storytelling, the focus is primarily on the productions of Speck and Enoch as they provide a soundtrack for the tale of Laserteeth Killmore (Akin is oddly absent from this tape, reasons for such only amounting to speculation).
The first two minutes of each track feature Cise weaving the legend of Laserteeth Killmore, beginning with a haunting introduction of the protagonist in “Enter Killmore.” He is described as a “rebel for the right price/will fight for any cause” and the product of scientific experiments and modifications, called upon to do the dirtiest of jobs. However, as much as these tracks offer a story for the listener, “An Introspection” shows that the tale Cise spits may be an analogy for the MC himself with the final verse of the song stating “Baptized in hurt/resurrected in flame/Cise Star is the soul/Laserteeth is the pain.”
Even in the second track, “Teeth,” the analogy appears with Cise spitting “Last on the list is the name Cise Star/Looked in the mirror/Saw the target then I paused/Took a deep breath/And I opened up my jaws/Teeth,” which not only refers to the fact that Killmore and Cise are one and the same but the fact that Killmore’s method of killing his targets is through his mouth, similar to how Cise’s biggest weapon is his mouth when he rhymes. Cise proves himself to still be one of the best rappers in hip-hop, weaving a tale with strong lyricism that holds a bit more than the story that is told.
The main focus of this album, however, lies in the production that continues after Cise finishes his strong displays of lyricism. Handled by in-house CYNE producers Speck and Enoch, the production on the tape paints for the listeners a dystopian society. Speck and Enoch split up the production work, with Speck operating the boards for the first part of the tape and Enoch taking over for the final three tracks to close out the album.
However, even with this shift, there is no disconnect as the beats move on. The tape runs like a soundtrack, each track seamlessly flowing from one to the next. And with most of the tracks running close to 10 minutes long, each track is always changing and evolving. Utilizing the formula they have been mastering since CYNE emerged, the two craft soundscapes through the traditional boom-bap patterns and afro-esque rhythms that many of their listeners are familiar with, combining the beats with creative sampling and loops, keeping the tape fresh and never leaving the listener bored or waiting for the next section.
Ultimately, CYNE’s latest release may not be the most profiled hip-hop album of 2011. I myself was not aware of its release until the day it was released. However, it definitely deserves to be considered one of the top albums put out this year and is definitely worth a listen. Cise Star delivers lyrically while Speck and Enoch masterfully produce a beat tape that is full of music and will leave your head nodding for days.
Bonus points for the packaging of the tape as well: not only is it a digital download, but the only other format Wasteland, Vol. 1 is available in is cassette tape. So go find your old Sony Walkman, pop in the cassette and get taken away by CYNE. “There’s Earth, there’s Space, and then there’s CYNE.”