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MP3 Herb and Skills - The Gathering

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In the time honored tradition of creating hip-hop collectives such as the Wu-Tang Clan, The Fugees, and more recently Nappy Roots, Herb and Skills has grown from a wealth of accomplished individual artists to become more than the sum of its parts. The Gat

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The Gathering -- Flagpole Magazine's 2003 Best Album Of The Year and Best Album Cover Art

June 19 - June 25, 2003
Creative Loafing, Vol. 32, No. 6
Born in a Barn

For decades, Athens has fortified its stronghold on pop music's map with a wellspring of college rock and conscientious bands who have always formed close-knit musical communities (a la Elephant 6, Orange Twin etc.). So it makes sense that the town's burgeoning hip-hop scene would adhere to similar familial values.

At the center of this family unit, the Attica Sound Farm - a production facility located inside a 120-year-old farm house in rural Athens - has harvested the first substantial crop of the area's hip-hop acts (excluding Bubba Sparxxx's "Ugly" redneck rap) via Herb and Skills' debut, The Gathering.

As much a group as it is a collective of solo artists, Herb and Skills was originally intended to be a vehicle that would showcase the production of Attica Sound co-owners/engineers Jorma Starratt and Hano Leathers, but soon evolved into something much larger. The two began working with local emcees Bird (of the group Rebel Underground Soldiers Slaying Ignorant Americans, or R.U.S.S.I.A), Ishues, Fort Knox, Kauzmoz, Jawz of Life and several others who will soon be releasing their own respective recordings on Attica Sound.
The Gathering yields a dark and cerebral vibe that shuns the booty shake and big money of the Dirty South in favor of churning out music with a message.

"None of us are into that Dirty South vibe," says Starratt. "We've all been listening to hip-hop for years and are more inspired by acts like Public Enemy and older Ice Cube. All that music had a social and political message that has somehow been lost."

Step aside, Bubba Sparxxx.

--Chad Radford

April 16, 2003
The Gathering - Album Review

Some of us are old enough to remember when hip hop wasn't all about bling. Listening to The Gathering, by the Athens-based Herb and Skills collective of warriors, has restored my faith in the hip hop genre. Ten coast-to-coast vocalists join forces with producers Jorma Starratt and Hano Leathers, bassist Carl Lindberg and DJ Chrisis to create this tour-de-force of lyrical and production mastery. Big beats drive a trance-like musical quality that blends real instruments with sampling to provide intricate backup to the vocals. Lyrically, each artist's voice is well-defined. Herb and Skills runs the gamut from emcee battle-songs to socially conscious and introspective tracks.

--Patrick Armstrong

May, 2003
Stomp and Stammer, Vol. 8, No. 7
The Gathering CD Review

Athens isn't know for its preponderance of quality hip hop acts (kiss my grits, Bubba Sparxxx) but The Gathering, the debut CD from the multi-pronged collective known as Herb and Skills may change common assumptions in that matter. Anchored by producers/musicians Hano Leathers and Jorma Starratt, both of defunct Athens rap/rock band Prozak, H&S gathers the city's best MCs - Ishues, Jawz of Life, Fort Knox, MeloDhrama, more - and sets 'em loose against a dense, intoxicating urban funk backdrop.

--Jeff Clark

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