Published Apr 29, 2015With the title of their latest album alluding to Michigan's famed game-changing college basketball team of the early '90s, Detroit's Clear Soul Forces are clearly intent on paying homage to their past and sonic heritage. On this album, MCs Noveliss, Ilajide, E-Fav and L.A.Z. are joined by beatmaker Nameless, who produces virtually the whole album, to make up the potent five-member team. Each one of the MCs is undeniably a lyrically intricate and merciless mic wielder, so it's not entirely surprising to find out that the group's genesis came after all four MCs individually demonstrated their lyrical abilities at a studio for Royce da 5'9".
The Detroit veteran was so impressed by them all that he suggested they become a group, and Royce's relentless and rugged style is detectable in their bottomless vocabulary well. The four MCs operate as a unit here, sacrificing individuality in favour of frequent mic passing. Their interlocking lyrical chemistry is reminiscent of early Slum Village material, which is definitely an overt influence on Nameless' production. Tracks like "Orange Faygo" and "Mars On Life" bear their J. Dilla influences proudly, but Clear Soul Forces don't use it as a crutch. The group outline their modus operandi on "BPSWR," an acronym for their self-described Backpacker Sub Woofer Rap, while "100%" and "KaBoom" are self-explanatory, soulful ciphers featuring all four MCs at full tilt.
If there is a criticism of Fab 5ive, it's that the MCs don't display more narrative versatility and are focused almost entirely on (admittedly invigorating) mic-wrecking duties, but it should be noted that "Gamma Ray" is a vivid and highly relevant description of the scrutiny accompanying driving while black. It's a timeout that Clear Soul Forces might want to take more often, but in the meantime, listeners should definitely revel in this team's entertaining high-octane mic offence. (Fat Beats)