Reviewed by Kahron Spearman, Fri., Feb. 12, 2016
Demise greatly exaggerated, hip-hop – especially its "boom-bap" subgenre – never expired. It still can be found locally, in fact, thriving in relentless duo Crew54's latest, the rewarding Wyld Gentlemen. Down to a single MC and producer setup, Mos and G. Christ teamed with German producer D2P, who added soul-sample-heavy beats, such as the hard-charging "Call of the Wyld," which features a Cotton Comes to Harlem audio sample. Standout "Brother's Keeper" guests Riders Against the Storm's Qi Dada, while de facto single "Labor" rings as a mission statement. G. Christ comes with hammer throws on "Ghetto Routine": "You call it hell/ I call it a rite of passage/ Lot of pastors/ A lot of caskets/ But if you make it through that ho without a scratch/ It's probably because you got the brain mastered." Once again, Austin heavy Bavu Blakes, who's been on each Crew project, and Wade Waters drop crystal clear bars on Wyld's best track, "Who Can You Trust?" The album closes with an epic traditional crew banger, "Men Behaving Badly," featuring Alpha Male Society. D2P's structuring and sonics create cohesion – incredible considering the entire album was created via email and file share. Like other tremendous duos in rap, there's a familiar richness and texture in Crew54's vocals, which pair Mos and G. Christ together like DNA strands. Similar to M.O.P., the Duck Down crew circa 1996, and now Run the Jewels, they're a locomotive machined onto a precise, historically respectful track.