I have high hopes from the Justus League these days. From Little Brother to Foreign Exchange to Big Pooh’s solo record, things are looking up in North Carolina. But the Away Team, a classic emcee/deejay team-up that doesn’t feature any members of Little Brother, comes off as, well, the little brother.
Producer Khrysis proved earlier this year with his work on Big Pooh’s debut, Sleepers, that he can sit next to the collective’s 9th Wonder with confidence. His production on National Anthem is respectable but not notable, but it’s the rest of the record that’s the real disappointment. Khrysis’s counterpart, an emcee named Sean Boog, sounds a little like Talib Kweli without the intellectual lyrics, and as the record spreads out over eighteen tracks, he brings less and less insight. “Make It Hot” features a shimmering beat and Phonte of Little Brother, and it’s also about the time when you realize that unless the remaining seven songs feature great rappers such as Phonte, you’ll get more songs that don’t really add up to much.
Despite the fact that relatively little hip-hop has come out of the Carolinas in the past, you’d think Sean Boog had heard enough emcees from other places to know that what he’s discussing — bitches and real hip-hop — has been played to the point of nausea. Not that Clipse’s drug dealing was so new, but at least Pusha T and Malice brought to their music a pride that defined their locale. Boog seems to hail from nowhere in particular. Unless you’re listening to Rakim, hearing someone rhyme for the sake of rhyming can get old real fast. If he steps up his game like I think he can, Khrysis has a big career ahead of him. Unless he starts speaking about something that matters, Sean Boog does not.