It’s been years since we’ve seen a full-length LP from Philadelphia rapper Decipher. Sure, we’ve seen a couple mixtapes from him along with a plethora of feature spots on other artists’ songs but those aren’t enough to truly gauge how an artist has evolved over time compared to an actual, conceptualized album. But this changed at the top of 2011, when Decipher dropped his long awaited return, The Effect. The MUzO artist did a good job of building anticipation for the album, but does it live up to the hype? We’re gonna find out.
From what I’ve seen, Decipher has historically been at the top of the list in terms of lyrical ability. But where he often faltered was with his beat selection and difficulty bridging the gap between the mainstream and hip-hop purists. Listening to this album, it appears he’s solved both of these issues, finding the middle ground and making use of some very solid instrumental choices. The opener “The Introduction” exemplifies this with sweeping, anthem-like production and non-stop rhymes filled with more quotables than a Rev Run twitter stream. He continues the lyrical assault on songs like “I’m Ready“, assisted by Dumbfoundead & Jay Park (who was the weakest link of the track) and “Another Level” featuring the oh-so-consistent flow of JL.
But Decipher isn’t afraid to get personal either, sharing a little bit about his life experiences on “Pick Me Up” and “Life“, the latter featuring a strong tag-team back and forth with Lyricks. Not content at letting the pen stop there, he goes on to tackle some more socially complex topics in “Angry Asian Man” (yes, indeeed inspired by the the blogger Phil Yu). AAM is one of my personal favorites on the album featuring an awesome instrumental and one of the hungriest verses I’ve ever heard from Manifest; Zo’s scratches was the icing on the cake.
Suffice to say, De still finds a way to satiate his more casual fans, providing incredibly infectious tunes such as “Beauty Queen” featuring LA’s Schoolboy DUKE without sacrificing lyrical technique. The line “take our relationship to the max, we Zack and Kelly” kills me every time! He’s also got some lady-killers on here, most notably “I Wanna Be” – a song boosted by the buttery smooth vocals of Andrew Choi. And of course we can’t forget the main single off the album “Catch Me If You Can“. If theres such a thing as the perfect storm in Hip-Hop, containing cross-over appeal, lyrical prowess, and enjoyability… this would be it. DC delivers his lines with tenacity over one of the dirtiest beats I’ve heard in a long time while Ailee absolutely demolishes the hook, and throws in her own rap verse to boot. Who the deuce expected that!?
That’s not to say every track on the album was good. Err.. wait actually every track on the album was good. Sure, some aren’t quite as strong as the best but when listening through I didn’t hit the skip button once. With any given album, there is always room for improvement but this release makes it awfully hard to find. It appears he’s finally figured out the perfect balance in his craft, effortleslly switching up styles but always retaining his signature wit and abilities. Here at a-Tunes, we’ve tended to give out middling to good ratings in our reviews but this is one release where we are proud to award our very first perfect score. Do you agree or think we’re out of line? Tell us why in the comments because we’d love to hear your opinion.
Must Listen: The Introduction; I’m Ready; Life; Another Level; I Wanna Be; Beauty Queen; Catch Me If You Can
a-Tunes Score: 10/10