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Wednesday, Apr 23 2003 | 21:48

Everything moves in cycles. For several years in the late ˜90s it seemed as though artists on independent labels, often distributed on vinyl only, were producing the most innovative hip-hop. Lately, the tables have turned: producers like the Neptunes, Timbaland, and Just Blaze are creating groundbreaking music that is also commercially successful. And the underground scene? It’s littered with music that never should have seen the light of day ¦ glorified demos and beats that sound like rejects from albums released in 1993. One group aims to shift the cycle once again: Soul Purpose.

Their debut album, Breaking Records, stands as a testament to the fact that independent artists can create music as dynamic as that on the majors ¦ without the big budgets or the gangster/jiggy clichés. While the name Soul Purpose is new, the people that make up the group – Mazzi, Koncepts and Zvi – are not.

Mazzi has been a hungry MC on the New York and New Jersey Underground scene for years, as well as dancing in videos for major-label artists such as Angie Martinez. Koncepts, half of the production team that makes up the core of Soul Purpose, has been putting in work since back in the day, as a pioneer in the Bay Area indie scene: when most of today’s artists were still in diapers, he was out on the Telegraph with his crew Kemetic Sunz, slangin’ tapes alongside the Living Legends and Hobo Junction. Zvi, the other half of the production squad, is widely known in NYC as a hustler: throwing concerts at the now-defunct Tramps night club in the late ˜90s and running street teams for Rawkus and 75 Ark.

After putting in work behind the boards with everyone from left-coast indie superstar Planet Asia to down-south thugs 3-6 Mafia, as well as ghost producing for some of the top names in the beat game, Soul Purpose step out on their own with Breaking Records. The album finds the trio, along with known and unknown associates from both coasts, crafting a coherent effort that reflects a day in their life, complete with triumphs and defeats, violence and levity.

The album displays a level of quality and musical innovation that has lately taken a back seat among indie artists to battle you rhymes and outdated beats. Soul Purpose has managed to craft their own sound: they can sound as dirty as Madlib and as energetic and funky as the Neptunes on the same track.

The album starts off with the anthem Let’s Go, with it’s double-time drums, whistles, horns and keyboard flourishes, and then doesn’t let up until the disc is over. On Stay Busy Mazzi and Buddy Slim of the Juggaknots discuss putting years of street hustling and partying behind them, to focus on their musical destinies, over a slow and soulful groove. This song epitomizes the Soul Purpose vibe: warm soulful music.

Take Cover (featuring Pumpkinhead) the album’s lead single, was described by Underground Hip-Hop.Com as: Short of Biggie re-emerging from the grave and recording a battle bootleg produced by Pete Rock, underground Hip Hop’s revolutionary scene will have to make do with ¦Take Cover. This is a charismatic splash of battle-mode effects, punchy lyrics and dazzling beats.

Other highlights include Bricks to the Persian Gulf which finds Mazzi going for broke over a ridiculous flute and synth medley; Minimum Wage on which Breez of the Juggaknotz, Mazzi and Koncepts bemoan the status of a musician trying to eat and feed a family while pursuing their craft; the hilarious Dry Spells featuring Wordsworth on which the MCs kick tales of sexual exploits foiled over a backing as cool and funky as any ˜neo-soul’ track in recent memory, and the incredible Lung Collapsing Lyrics Part 2 where Mazzi and lyrical legend Percee P trade unbelievable verses over a track filled with crazy drum breakdowns, cowbells, and garage-rock guitars.

Fact: Breaking Records doesn’t have a weak moment. Asked to sum up what separates Soul Purpose’s debut endeavor from the ten-thousand indie records released every week, Koncepts states succinctly, The music is soulful and original, you can’t help but snap your neck when you listen to this, and the lyrics talk about real life, things anyone can relate to, whether they bubble crack on the corner, work a 9 to 5, or freestyle in cyphers all day¦we make music for real people.

1. One, Two (Intro)
2. Let’s Go
3. Greetings
4. Take Cover! Ft. Pumpkinhead
5. The Other White Meat Ft. Immortal Technique
6. Own Two Feet Ft. 427 and Koncepts
7. What Matters More (Interlude)
8. Stay Busy Ft. Slim of The Juggaknotz
9. Soul Puppies (Interlude)
10. Minimum Wage Ft. Breezly Brewin of The Juggaknotz
11. Two Hits (Interlude)
12. Breaking Records Ft. Kirby Dominant, Auditrons, Infamous MC
13. Lung-Collapsing Lyrics Part II Ft. Percee P, Add’l Vocals: Koncepts
14. The Last Cypher Ft. C-Rayz Walz
15. The Ballad of Lost Friends
16. Heee A Laa (Interlude)
17. CA-101 Featuring A-O.N.E, Add’l Slanguage: Mikey Disco
18. What I Used To Do (Interlude)
19. Out To Lunch Featuring Subconscious & LaQuantum Leap
.20. One, Two Part II (Interlude)
21. Bricks to the Persian Gulf
22. Dry Spells Featuring Wordsworth
23. Goodbye (Outro)

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