By Melissa Fossum
By Lauren Wise
By New Times
By Amanda Savage
By Jason P. Woodbury
By Troy Farah
By New Times
Throughout Masterz of Ascencion, the outfit shows a well-conceived restraint and awareness of their assets. Instead of overloading their music with too many samples, too much scratching and convoluted beats, the Ascended Masterz keep it simple, paring the tracks to just the essential elements.
"Thru the Hemisphere" kicks off with an RZA-esque organ sample that maintains the song's sinister undertones along with some minor-key bass lines. Over that background, the MCs trade seriously delivered rhymes that, if not entirely focused, complement one another's flow with a variety of stylistics.
That variety is the group's greatest strength, as it allows them to flip through styles similar to artists as disparate as De La Soul and the Wu-Tang Clan without ever sounding derivative. When "KY Jelly" kicks off with a big-band sample matched with well-timed beats, it's obvious that the Ascended Masterz share both an imaginative proclivity and a sense of humor (the chorus goes, "You can't fuck without the KY Jelly . . .").
The group's sense of balance places this record outside the bounds of your average minor-league local release. They know how to match hard lyrics with humor and how to combine serious beats with playfulness, as well as when to use samples and when to let the rhymes and beats stand on their own merits. These are subtleties that it often takes artists years to assimilate; the Ascended Masterz have them wired already. -- Brendan Kelley
Ascended Masterz's Masterz of Ascencion and Smoke's Leprosy are available at www.geocities.com/octatoung/eots.html