Soulspazm Records is displaying all the traits of an upstart label to watch. Previous releases from their roster include Grand Agent’s Fish Outta Water Remixes, Fel Sweetenberg’s Lost Dreams, Wasted Talent, Supastition’s The Deadline and now Hurry Up & Wait from Hezekiah.
Delaware-raised and now Philly-based, Hezekiah is a hip-hop renaissance man. He sings, writes, produces, MCs and is also the prime mover behind the hip-hop producer showcase & club night, Beat Society. As a young ‘un he was immersed in both gospel and funk, and both these influences are exhibited on Hurry Up & Wait in vocal and instrumental stylings. Hezekiah’s sound is soul-drenched, funk-fuelled, and generally fresh-sounding. He invokes a seductive but futuristic funk influence that reminds me of Sa Ra, while his crispy and satisfying beats are reminiscent of classic Dilla, as exemplified on Slum Village’s Fantastic Vol. 2.
Although Hezekiah is more than capable of holding his own, a handful of quality guest spots enhance the proceedings. Among them, Grand Agent shows up on “Live & Direct” and Bahamadia makes an always-welcome cameo on “Gypsy Slang.”
Lyrically, the subject matter varies from motivational tales of overcoming everyday struggles (“Put Your Toys Away”), to the perils of dating (“Psycho Chick” containing the classic line “took 2 months to get with her, took 4 months to get rid of her”), a rousing call for political change (“Gasoline”), as well as something for the ladies (“Conscious Porn”). Hezekiah is a charismatic storyteller for the most part, which helps when trying to gloss over his sometimes puerile although not totally offensive references to women.
His beats are stylized and distinctive but varied and though he produces almost the entire album, with a couple of exceptions including Illmind’s notable contribution on “Children Don’t Play”, the overall sound remains vital and fresh throughout. Thick basslines underpin solid beats and each track is laced with a variety of sonic trappings whether it’s a wash of warm keys, subtle horns, rousing strings or DJ Statik’s scratches. Musically, it’s one of the more satisfying hip-hop albums out at the moment, with a lot of details in the production that make for richer than usual soundscapes, prolonging the stay of this cd in your changer.
Hurry Up & Wait has a vibrant, hungry quality that seems in keeping with the idea behind the title (a testament to the “woes of the independent artist” according to the Soulspazm site). The breadth of musical ideas contained within gives the impression that Hezekiah’s been bubbling with all these thoughts for some time and has finally found the outlet to manifest them. This album definitely whets the appetite for more from Hezekiah and the Soulspazm camp.
Soulspazm Records
Listen to the album sampler mix