Word of South
A Piece of Strange
Review By: Frank Lewis
Are the CunninLynguists your typical southern group? No. Your typical independent artists? No. Your typical anything? Hell no. This point is made clear by the name of the southern duo’s third album, �A Piece of Strange.� This time around the duo of rapper Deacon and producer Kno is joined by Natti (of the Kynfolk). And together they create easily one of the best efforts of 2006 and demonstrate that they are anything but typical.
The first thing that everyone is sure to notice when listening to this album is the production of Kno. His drums are in a word, ridiculous. His samples are in another word, creative. From the horns of “Beautiful Girl” to the piano of “Nothing to Give,” he creates a sound that is beyond the ability of most producers. The music on this album is amazingly deep, each song layered and fleshed healthily. Whereas most producers create a “busy” effect when trying to layer beats properly, Kno pulls it off easily. The instrumental interludes and the track “Remember Me(Abstract Reality)” are just more evidence of Kno’s ability.
With such an extraordinary musical landscape, it would be easy for typical rappers to be outshined and outclassed. Deacon and Natti, both far from typical, deliver lyrics befitting the music it is paired with. Kno also makes a rapping appearance, but fewer than on past albums �Will Rap For Food� and �Southernunderground.� Fans of CunninLynguists leery of whether Natti can hold is own or not have nothing to fear. Natti announces his own prowess on the high energy “Since When,” spitting “Not never been clever since big pens been about/ reaching whatever levels that are suspended in doubt/ and we as bad as your kids when this mic’s to our mouth”. But the Cunninlyguists go beyond just creative braggadocio. Deacon demonstrates their depth and range on “Caved In” saying “I’m seeing impatient parents blaming unsuspecting children/ I’m seeing impatience critical, streets are dead from the killings”.
The only flaw of this album is that a few songs almost seem to be repeats of each other. How many songs about the everyday struggle are you allowed to have? It’s a small criticism, and most people probably won’t care, that’s how good this album is.
The music is amazing, the lyrics are top notch, and almost every song on the album drips with meaning and content. Add to this a small, but well chosen, list of features, and the album jumps another level. The soulful Cee-Lo Green drops by to lend his voice to the melancholy “Caved In”. Indy favorite Immortal Technique stops by to bless us with another of his thought-provoking verses on the song “Never Know Why”. And finally Tonedeff delivers on the surreal “The Gates”.
In the end, this album is something you don’t see often in the independent
market: well-done, complete, and focused. I’ve listened to the album dozens of times before writing this review, and I’m still catching new meaning and new concepts that are hidden in these tracks. I would recommend this album to anyone; they may not like it, but they would sure have to respect it. �A Piece of Strange� is an album that will not be properly appreciated for how deep it is until many years after this review. Is the album strange? It depends on what you mean. Is it out of the ordinary? Yes. Is it striking? Yes. Is it exotic? Yes. Is it rare and remarkable? Hell yes.
4.5/5 Word of South