After a couple of self-released twelve-inches, Starving Artist Crew’s debut full-length, Up Pops the SAC, reps well the four-man Michigan unit, embodying both old-school influences and a sometimes comical take on the state of underground hip-hop. The three emcees and their highly competent DJ Phizyx offer a whopping eighteen tracks here for their Fat Beats release, with no filler in between.
It’s quite a feat for a crew to break out with such a lengthy debut and still avoid mediocre road bumps. SAC does this willingly, and aside from occasional lyrical fumblings, Up Pops the SAC is a solid record. Emcees SP, Brainstorm, IQ and DJ Phizyx know well the importance of constructing beats and rhymes that vary enough from track to track so as to avoid monotony. For most of the record, the emcees provide hilarity and honesty about their day jobs and humdrum hometown antics. They naturally add a bit of macho nonsense about “sleazy hoes,” but SAC’s strengths are in their variety in beats and vocal truthfulness about rednecks and blue-collar life.
The jazz-funk-infected beats are the product of SP and IQ, with impressive turntable work from Phizyx and some guest help from Thes One of People Under the Stairs. Thes lends a hand on “Five Day Trippin’,” a drunken head-nodder with breathless intricate verse from the Motor City: “Oh dear here we go go/ Yo, just so you know know/ We’re never ever solo/ Mediocre or so-so.” They’re always confident, even in the face of redneck detractors on the hilariously cynical and introspective “Saggy Pants.” Complaints are aplenty here about lousy labor on weekends and tactless offensive co-workers. Perhaps the charm of this relentless debut is in its solution to dreary workweek madness: a few ice-cold pints and a quality, well-produced hip-hop record from a promising crew.