Show & AG
Show & A.G., esteemed members of Diggin' In The Crates, first gained notoriety in the early-to-mid '90s with two critically-acclaimed albums, Runaway Slave and Goodfellas. Fast forward to 2008, A.G. (AKA Andre the Giant) has been busy keeping his formidable rhyme skills intact, having released two independent solo joints and guest appearing on numerous D.I.T.C. releases. Show (formerly known as Showbiz) is no slouch either, having become a sought-after producer, lending his musical talents to other illustrious members of his crew as well as countless other rappers on the scene.
On Live Hard, Show & A.G. have regrouped after a ten year hiatus to bring listeners an EP chockfull of New York-style underground beats and rhymes. The songs on this album are squarely aimed at attracting the current generation of dedicated rap fans who might have been too young to remember the frenetic joy of "Soul Clap" or sonic beauty of "Next Level." In addition to converting neophytes to the D.I.T.C. sound, it still serves to rekindle their ties with older Hip Hop heads, already in-the-know when it comes to the boom bap legacy of Show & A.G.
Overall, Live Hard contains moments of brilliance, a blissful union of melody and rhythm that capture the D.I.T.C. aesthetic. The album begins with "Business As Usual", a slow burner of a track composed of a stark piano loop, hard-hitting drums and DJ Premier's patented cuts and scratches. The song signals the triumphant return of the Bronx-bred team into the treacherous Hip-Hop landscape; with A.G. sounding both confident in his lyrical abilities and resolute in bringing the essence back to his beloved art form.
"Magic" is another noteworthy track that finds A.G. spitting uplifting lyrics over a buttery smooth and soulful track. The emcee speaks eloquently about his life experiences and expresses gratitude for having gained worldwide respect and admiration through their music, from the rough concrete blocks of the BX to the tropical islands of "Indone-si-a." Other tracks worth a listen include "Live Hard" (the semi-autobiographical title track) and "The World Is Listening," a vivid tale that espouses the benefits of speaking the truth.
On other songs, listeners might feel slightly disappointed by the lack of variety in A.G.'s rhymes and Show's musical contributions. Although the over-reliance on posse cuts and guest producers tend to clutter a majority of Hip Hop releases these days, "Live Hard" might have benefited from a few artistic collaborations. A.G. has a style that can always serve well to be broken up by another rapper. O.C. is the only other D.I.T.C. member and rapper present on the album. He provides a much-needed dose of raw energy and unbridled swagger to "Land of the Free," a noteworthy critique of America's preoccupation with materialism and greed. Nevertheless, O.C.'s welcome appearance zestful contribution cannot take away from the song's lackluster production and monotony of A.G.'s flow.
When it comes to representing D.I.T.C. to the fullest, Show & A.G. have always been worthy representatives and unwavering in their quest to bring back truth and realness to the rap game. Their latest offering is an admirable addition to the team's catalogue, with thoughtful lyrics and laid-back joints for fans to enjoy. However, the absence of musical variation is what keeps this EP from ever being mentioned with the Soul Clap EP. Let's hope that Show & A.G. will release a proper full-length very soon, one that truly holds up their legacy.