Critic’s Corner: Blue Scholars – OOF! EP

What’s going on a-Tunes readers? I know it’s been a long time since our last review and I apologize for the delays. Believe me, we got our work cut out for us as we try to play catch up with the all the albums we got to review for you all. But let’s start from the top of our list. Blue Scholars is a hip-hop duo (MC Geologic and producer Sabzi) that’s been doing their thing for a number of years now. Based in Seattle but heavily influenced by Geo’s upbringing in Hawaii , they’ve steadily increased their brand and exposure and though I’m a bit late I’ve just discovered them earlier this year. Their latest release, the OOF! EP, dropped at the end of August (again, sorry for the lag) and pays deliberate homage to the 50th state. Wondering if it’s any good? Read on after the jump to find out!

Bananas – The EP kicks off with sparse instrumentation (reminiscent to the Neptunes produced Snoop hit “Drop it Like it’s Hot”). The drums sounds are real interesting and help drive the song. Geo’s flow is on point though it’s a short track and he only spits on verse. I’m loving the funky synths that kick in towards the end. It’s a good intro but is too short for its own good. Though it clocks in at 2:21 it just screams to be made into a full track.

HI-808 – This song is the main single of the EP and it doesn’t disappoint. Many of you may remember the video for this track, released over the summer. More than anything this track creates an experience. They captured the essence of Hawaii as a Hip-Hop track almost perfectly. The vibe is cool and loose, it’s got an easy-going bounce to it and Geo waxes lyrical about his home state without getting clichéd or corny. Sabzi’s production really stands out too.

Coo? – Once again Sabzi puts together a sonically intriguing instrumental. He retains that old school boom bap kind of feel but mixes it in with a breezy melody loop. Geo’s delivery is great here riding the beat and feel of the song perfectly. The hand claps add a lot of flavor to the beat. My only minor complaint is that the hook is “coo” but a bit repetitive. Also, as another track under 3 minutes, it just feels to short.

New People – All I can say is that this song is infectiously catchy.  Geo switches up his style and gets playful on this one and its fitting because it all creates a fun song. This track probably has the most cross appeal on the EP. The production is just simply accessable without making compromises or copying trends. The best way to describe this song is like a party on a beach in Hawaii. It’s got that fun energy but still keeps that laid back, relaxed type of vibe.

Hello – This record is real relaxed. It’s got a little bit of a slower pace, and Geo accommodates with an almost old school style of flow. The bluesy bass line was a great touch. I’ve got mixed feelings on the hook. It’s intriguing but seems too bare bones after a couple listens. More than anything this is a concept song, and to be quite frank I don’t know too many artists that can dedicate an entire song to a simple greeting, but the Blue Scholar’s pull it off almost effortlessly.

Cruz – If you don’t wanna hop on the next plan to Honololu after this listening to this song something’s wrong with you. This song’s easy like a summer breeze. It’s got a great Jawaiin sound and evokes the islands with clarity only matched by the state’s waters. Straight up, I love this song. It always puts me in a better mood haha. Best of all this song has a memorable hook unlike some of the other songs here.

Honestly, being so recently introduced to their music I didn’t know what to expect from this release. It was more or less my first real listen of the group. Now that I’ve thoroughly heard the OOF! EP I can safely say I’m a fan. Geo & Sabzi are one of the strongest MC/Producer duo’s I’ve seen in quite some time and they complement/balance each other out very well. This EP is really a tease as pretty much every song was good if not great, leaving me wanting a lot more. I suppose that’s the purpose of a well executed EP but with half of the songs clocking in at under 3 minutes, and only one over 4, there really isn’t a whole lot to listen to hear. In fact it totals at under 20 minutes. This is almost a glorified demo. That being said, I’d gladly take quality over quantity any day and in that respect the Blue Scholars do not fail to deliver. As a concept album, the EP draws great creative inspiration from the newest state and is a very refreshing listen. There really were very few missteps on this release. The only one (other than length) that comes to mind is the lack of strong hooks. While functional and never irritating, the choruses often seem a little too sparse and utilitarian. The biggest issue is that many of them fail to be very memorable. They are less like ‘hooks’ and more like interludes between verses. Anyways, it’s a very minor complaint in an otherwise very strong release. I look forward to seeing what this duo can do with a whole album’s worth of material. They certainly have the creativity, style and substance to do it.

Must Listen: HI-808, New People, Cruz

a-Tunes Score: 9/10

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