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MP3 Tmi Productions - Phokuss, Vol. 2: More Statements

The 2nd poigant and brutally honest release from the legendary Staten Island Pirate Camp, TMI Productions.

22 MP3 Songs in this album (73:20) !
Related styles: HIP-HOP/RAP: East Coast, HIP-HOP/RAP: Hip Hop

People who are interested in Wu-Tang Clan Little Brother Native Tongues should consider this download.

It''s said that patience is a virtue. In describing fans of Staten Island''s pioneering true school hip-hop collective TMI Productions, virtuous would be an understatement. Considering that it''s been nearly three years since their last release, Statements Volume 1, the core members of TMI Productions have a lot of explaining to do. On the eve of the release of Phokuss: Volume 2 More Statements, answers are forthcoming, and man have these guys been busy.

"We didn''t really take any time off after recording the last album," says Gooch, who in the years since Volume 1 has gone on to produce lo-fi subterranean gems for Wu-Tang stalwarts Shyheim and U-God, as well as tracks with Rocafella Records alum Freeway and his group Ice City. "Our whole thought process was to keep promoting the album and really get it out there in the marketplace. Once we were satisfied with the numbers it was moving, we began to branch out and really get into building a better rapport with the rest of the music industry."

And that they''ve done. Cue Trax went on to score street singles for super-talented Goomba emcee JoJo Pellegrino as well as international reggae superstar Bruck Up. And Gooch has provided sonic backdrops for BMG Germany R&B vocalist Joy Denalane; QB natives Littles, Tragedy Khadafi, and Nature; as well as upcoming records with emerging soul singer Keon Bryce (Jay-Z, Nas, Santana), and budding Atlantic Records recording artist Hotwright.

"These new records that we''re doing are just a notch above anything else that we''ve touched in our careers," says Cue Trax. "Fuck throwing back a jersey, we''re throwing back our production skills, by really going in on these records and tailoring it exactly to fit the artist. We''re taking samples and adding live instruments on top, bringing in string arrangers, and session musicians. We just start with a basic idea and go from there. It''s such a rush to hear your music become this fleshed out record. I don''t even know where we''re headed next."

As if production was just one area in which the members of TMI have branched out, Paradox (one of the four emcees in the camp), alongside his progressive rock/rap band Aquavibe, currently appears as a character in the video game Playboy: The Mansion (PS2, Xbox). "We just got a call one day from someone at Playboy that said they heard our music and thought our shit was crazy," he says. "Hef flew us out to LA to perform at one of his parties. Now I kinda wake up and sometimes shake my head, like, ''Shit, dude you''re in a video game!'' I''m just taking it one day at a time, but really man, shit is exciting as hell."

Another one of the emcees, Scraps, released a highly acclaimed underground solo LP in the fall of 2004, and after performing to support the record for some time, has been seen his popularity sore after appearing on New York-based news channel NY1 to talk about the DJ classes he now teaches at a Staten Island Music School. "The solo album was really well received," he remarks. "I didn''t know how people would take to it, because it was definitely a little leaning towards the underground. Deejaying, producing, and emceeing, those are just things I picked up along my hip-hop travels. I''m glad I had the proper upbringing, because it gives me serious quality control right now, so I won''t put no wack shit out. I really got put on to teach DJ classes as a result of what I was doing in the indie scene with my solo album. So I''m happy it opened that door for me. My classes are packed!"

And alas, rapper Rigz has been in the studio knocking out records for his forthcoming solo LP as well. "I''ve been taking my time with it, making sure all the material is consistent," he confesses. "I don''t like how albums be jumping all around. My shit is real honest and really about the sacrifices a rapper has to make in this game in order to really walk with the Lord. As a born-again Christian, sometimes the line is hard to tow. But I''m handling it well, and delivering the Lord''s message with my words, and he appreciates that. The trappings of a superstar would be great, but as long as I can breathe easy I''m good."

Even with all of the developments among the camp in its entirety, with TMI Productions Presents: Phokuss- Volume 2 More Statements, the emcees and producers who make up this shaolin-bred quintet have once again answered the call of hardcore hip-hop heads worldwide. From "Hustla," with its candid depiction of being on the grind 24/7, to "Po," the every ghettosman anthem for people just flat-out fed up with being broke, Phokuss'' aim is clear: tell it like it is. "We''re not into rapping for rapping''s sake," says Cue Trax. "I want a Bentley Azzure and all that fly shit just like the next man, but at the end of the day, you really need to validate what you''re doing with your life. We''re all musicians really, but the voice is just another instrument added to our orchestra. I''ll do music regardless of whether hip-hop was around or not. This is me."

"I Don''t Got Much," a Dox solo cut, is a mid-tempo soulful dedication to his female counterpart who accepts him even without the luxuries afforded to rap superstars. "The song is really just me expressing how I really don''t have much in terms of material wealth, but my love is really enough to get us by," he says.

"No Idea," another track brimming with lush orchestration, is a drum-heavy braggadocio record, with Rigz and Scraps waxing poetic about the fallacies they see in many of the so-called thug rappers of today''s era.

All in all, the album is a cohesive gem filled with enough bangers to really give it the true replay value of timeless hip-hop classics. That''s hard to say about much of what the major labels and even the indie scene are spewing out these days. Volume 2 is cleverly devoid of any out of place southern-influenced cuts or shit that just doesn''t seem to fit with the rest of the songs. The songs are all hard-hitting and melodically impressive. These days it''s certainly hard to part with your money when it comes to purchasing music, but if you''re going to cop one album, make sure it''s Statements Volume 2.

Paul Cantor
Freelance writer for https://www.tradebit.com Mag/Koch Records

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