Ski Beatz, 24 Hour Karate School

Ski Beatz, 24 Hour Karate School

Hype is a terrible thing — it can push the good into the realm of legendary or relegate the mediocre into something to be despised. On paper, 24 Hour Karate School had all the ingredients to be a spectacular album: a talented, well-respected producer, combined with a potent mix of MCs.

Originally slated to be released in March 2010, a slew of videos were produced, each showcasing such talents as hip-hop icon Mos Def or underground sensations Jay Electronica and Curren$y. The hype was so there you would’ve though Ski Beatz had crafted the next great hip-hop album. The March deadline passed, however, and the album was pushed further down the calendar. Two delays later, 24 Hour Karate School finally dropped. No more hype and no more anticipation; it’s time for Ski Beatz to show that the wait was worth it.

With 24 Hour Karate School, Ski Beatz nearly manages to carry an entire album based on his beats alone. Whether it’s a full-on, five-piece brass band on “Nothing But Us” or the blues-rock beats of “I Got Mines,” 24 Hour Karate School has some of this year’s best hip hop beats.

That’s a good thing, considering how some of the MCs involved decided to mail it in. “Go” features a decent effort by both Jim Jones and Curren$y but still plunges into a few nonsensical verses, a curse that plagues the entire album. It begins with an inexplicable effort by Tabi Bonney on “Not Like Me,” a boastful song that should have been excluded from the album altogether. I say inexplicable, as Bonney actually does a half-decent job on the excellent “I Got Mines” but fails inspire as the featured MC on “Not like Me.”

Unfortunately, Ski Beatz doesn’t help Bonney, as “Not Like Me” has the worst arrangement of the entire album, leaving Bonney to witlessly gurgle out gems like, “I’m on regular TV and cable / I know you seen me and I ain’t on no label / I’m brand name on my own name and name brain / So when you hang with me / you get props like dang.”

Even when the beats are good, they can’t polish lyrical shits like Rugz D Bewler’s “Super Bad,” in which he mindlessly repeats, “I’m super duper bad / Pen, pad / I’m super duper bad with my pen and my pad.” Truly terrible. 24 Hour Karate School is hit or miss — it just so happens that the misses are friendly-fire-during-a-parade kind of bad. The hits are there, and the beginning/end of the album show what happens when a little lyrical effort meets inspired beats. So to call 24 Hour Karate School a complete catastrophe would be to ignore great songs like “S.T.A.L.L.E.Y” and “Prowler 2.”

In the end, the final cut of 24 Hour Karate School is a bit lighter than what was promised. 10 real tracks, plus the instrumentals for both of Mos Def’s tracks — Mos was unfortunately removed, due to Downtown Records not clearing his appearance. Considering how prominently Mos was featured in all the hype, the lack of his tracks seriously hurt the album. Since the album’s release, both of the full Mos Def tracks have been released, with the lounge-ish groove of “Cream of the Planet” really highlighting what could have been.

What remains is salvageable, mainly due to some very talented crafting by Ski Beatz. Better still is that talent rappers like Stalley, Jay Electronica, and Curren$y continue to impress. However, when your name is prominently featured on the album cover, using a font larger than the font used on the title, you have a responsibility to ensure that all parts of the album are of the highest quality. By allowing some half-assed lyrics to accompany his beats, Ski Beatz leaves us with yet another album that fails to live up to its promise.

Review by . Review posted Tuesday, January 4th, 2011. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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