Locke – Relevance


Hip-hop has been in a state of flux the past several years. Many of the groundbreaking godfathers of the genre have lost their hold over the music, and the trail that they laid down has been tread over, leaving nary a trace of their existence. The majority of what has been left behind, at least in the mainstream, lacks originality, and the music has suffered in the long run. With that said, the past few years have been bringing about some changes.
No, Locke is not the second coming of Rakim, but he is one of many from the crop of talented underground hip-hop artists that seem to be bringing back the spirit of the days of old. Like several other recent discoveries, Locke seems to have a feel for the elements that make up “true” hip-hop. His songs aren’t about cars, blunts, and hoes. They are, however, well thought out, nicely flowing and “relevant” – essentials for a good hip-hop record.
One of the best things about this release is the tight production that is showcased on nearly every track. The background that the producers provide brings a laid-back yet slightly raw atmosphere that nearly any hip-hop fan would find appealing. Nothing is too over the top. The bass doesn’t overload speakers to their breaking point. Simply, the samples, rhythms, and overall ambience come together to bring out Locke’s talent.
“Clear Signal” begins the album with samples of light piano, flutes, and tight, rhythmic drumming. This sound provides a nice background for Locke as he casually flows in and out over the top of the instrumental. His style is mid-paced – not rapid fire, yet not ultra slow. This flows nicely into “Like it or Not,” which has a head-nodding, body-moving groove that even throws in some brass instrumental samples for extra measure.
“Round the Clock” starts off like a time bomb ready to explode. The echoes of a clock ring and Locke is off to the races. Typically of this record, the instrumental is very good, however Locke doesn’t seem to quite have a grasp of the pace on this one. At times it comes off rough. However, by the end of the song, he turns things around and makes it worth a listen. “Objects of the Senses,” featuring Ohmega Watts and Smoke, is one of the best cuts on the album. The beats are tight, raw, and East-coast sounding, and they exude a feeling of aggression unlike some of the other more laid-back songs on the record. The guest MCs represent nicely and also do their part to make this one a winner.
Locke’s Relevance is a very solid first effort. While nothing on this release will blow anyone’s mind in terms of originality, it is a tight, easy-to-listen to record that should please fans of underground hip-hop.