Deep Thinkers "Necks Move" (Datura Records)

Hailing from Kansas City, Missouri, about as unlikely a North American hip-hop landmark as there is, Deep Thinkers have the element of surprise on their side, and the freedom perhaps that comes with few expectations. But let’s make it clear, that while these factors provide an additional punch to their album, Necks Move would hold its own under any other circumstances, because it is simply a great record that provides fulfilling listening.

The pair of MC Brother of Moses and producer Leonard D. Stroy bear some similarities to Bay Area crew Zion I in their willingness to incorporate elements of other production styles in their boom-bap. Many tracks have a slightly futuristic edge, inspired perhaps from experimental drum programming some electronica producers utilize. But there’s nothing abstract here. Their beats do what the album title suggests and set heads to bobbin’, while the sonic backdrops provide for rich listening. “Movin’ On” featuring label mate Approach incorporates future funk, with warm keys and wicked scratches. “Bottled Slaughter” is a musically epic and lyrically incisive catalog of socio-political topics such as environmental issues and corporate greed set against a cinematic backdrop of exotic and primal instrumentation which transcends the realm of typical hip-hop.

While their name, Deep Thinkers, may suggest an overly wordy, pseudo-intellectual sense of self, all lyrical evidence points instead to an intelligent, informed point of view expressed deftly and without pretentiousness. Perhaps the most telling track on the album in terms of revealing self is “We Live In Kansas City.” They speak volumes about their point of view with the following lines: “I live in Kansas City and I don’t drive a monster truck…I’ll pass a rack of ribs up…I don’t roll the streets with heat” and “I open minds with my rhymes….can’t sound silly talking about pimpin’ in front of the children.”

Necks Move is a rarity in that delivers lyrics and production of equally satisfying proportions. It’s one of those albums that works well on a superficial level, the album title overtly stating this purpose, but has much more to reveal upon closer inspection and repeated playing. Necks Move is recommended listening for any hip-hop head looking for something different, and even for those looking to be re-inspired by the possibilities of hip-hop.

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