Basics: More YAFI hip hop? You got it. Luckily, The Orphanz have a clue as to what they are doing, as opposed to certain other hip hop artists from last week. Veteran producers Dre Lesean and D.K. Simmons comprise The Orphanz and their Progression Vol. 1 reads as a veritable who's who of acts they have produced: Babyface, El DeBarge, Jr., Missy Elliott and Damani Blaq all contribute vocals on the album. What comes forth, then, is 23 tracks of all different styles, tied together by one common bond - The Oprhanz' slick production style.
Best Song: There are a lot of songs choose from for this distinction -- and I'm not just saying that because there are over 20 tracks on the album. Lesean and Simmons have been in the game for a while now and they know how to do their damn thing. The fourth track on the album, "1Hunnid" features vocals from Damani Blaq with a little help from Lesean himself. However, it is beautifully tied together by perhaps it's strongest aspect -- El DeBarge, Jr. singing the hook. The son of former Motown mainstay/DeBarge lead singer El DeBarge, Jr. proves that the apple definitely hasn't fallen far from the tree. Having silky smooth vocals like that at your disposal -- as Lesean and Simmons have throughout Progression -- certainly helps add a nice polish to their tracks.
Worst Song: For some odd reason, "Here We Go" sounds like it was recorded on substandard equipment -- definitely different from the rest of the tracks. It really sounds as if it is heavily transcoded -- their is noticeable static and the vocals sound overtly tinny. Thankfully it's the only song that sounds this way, but it is unfortunate in that it throws a wrench -- as the eighth track on the album -- into an otherwise solid momentum.
Suggestions: I, for one, would love to hear Vol. 2. Lesean and Simmons don't really need my help at this point in their careers, but I will say that it is good to know that these two can help make a name for AZ hip hop like they have with The Progresssion Vol. 1.
If you're a musician from the Phoenix metro area and would like to have your music reviewed in You Asked For It (our first-come, first-served and often harsh record review column) please send it in an envelope marked "YAFI" to:
Michael Lopez You Asked For It c/o Phoenix New Times 1201 E. Jefferson Street Phoenix , AZ 85034