This is the debut album from 3 The Hardway, a group consiting of A.V.I.U.S. (MC), Cysko Rokwel (DJ), and Es-Nine (Producer).
Cysko- On this album you will realize that the best Recording DJ alive, is DJ Cysko Rokwel. This is a work of art on his part, and you just simply don't hear cuts and phrasing like this, much less as well thought out and with as much digging behind it as Cysko's work on "Set In Stone". From the very start (Set In Stone Intro), Cysko is showing and proving just that. He sets the bar, and then maintains his own pace, which is something most artists have trouble with.
Es-Nine- What else can I say, this producer is among the best. He is ready to be recognized with the Nicolay's and 9th Wonder's of the world, and is making producers like DJ Premier and Pete Rock very proud.
A.V.I.U.S.- This MC has been on his grind. He has seen more stages these last two years than anybody. He is a true poet, who means every word he says, and who is really in love with his Raps. A typical coversation with him goes like this, "yo what up A.V.I.U.S." "not much, man that reminds me of this lyric I just wrote, check it out".
The three of them are known for their high energy shows, volume, and for rockin the stage together as a close-knit posse.
Soon they will most likely be known for releasing one of the most pivotal true-school Hip Hop albums of the 21st Century.
Here are some reasons why.
This song is truly timeless. So timeless it sound like it could have been recorded in a dream. Not just any dream though, more like a Deja-Vu. Like you are remembering something but dreaming about it at the same time. Feel me?
The horns during the hook really take this song in a different direction, while most of the time it leaves a lot of open space above your head, so that you can really picture Rapper A.V.I.U.S.
However, A.V.I.U.S. catches onto the relaxed rhythm perfectly, and it mellows him out, to the point where you can also focus on the soulful vocal sampling, interspersed throughout the beat. Everything in it's right place. Dope. And yet it feels entirely different from the rest of the album...
This song has been in circulation for awhile now. It's a collabaration with DEFARI! And honestly, it is one of our favorite songs by Defari, ever. And we are huge Defari fans. But the great thing about SET IN STONE, is that all the featured MC's come so correct, that I find myself ranking their work on SET IN STONE among their best work ever.
The beat marches, and Defari says some really cool shit. Great lyrics, the hook is wild, Cysko's cuts at the end is some of the best phrasing, ever.
And the Mini-Hook?
Make sure you check these guys out live, where this song is is a heavy fan favorite.
We love a good shot at society. And while A.V.I.U.S. isn't exactly known for his political material, this song ranks among the best social critiques in Hip Hop we've ever heard. It's truly some shit the revolutionaries out there can be proud of.
Its not on some pretensious hate based angst-ridden bullshit, its some real shit, from a real MC, who would rather not have to write this song, but its the truth, and most political Rappers really miss the mark compared to a joint like this.
Its not another song by the rebellious son of a senator, about what he read in the newspaper, its a real song, by a real MC, about what he sees in the Streets.
And Cysko absolutely murders the cuts, again, and again. And it should be said right now that Cysko really needs some recognition from this album, because he is changing the game, and may just be the best Recording DJ alive.
Es-Nine is a G and by G I mean a Genius for this one. He picked a recurring melody for this song, which will be stuck in your head for the rest of your life. OOOOO OOO WHOOO OOOOO OOOO. Something like that. It reminds me of smiling. And tears of joy. And its Love.
This is my favorite song on the album right now. I'm all about positive over negative. Cysko went in on those cuts, digging hard to find the right samples to convey that righteous message.
This is going to be my favorite song on this album, and that is saying a lot, because they have a song with Defari, and another song with Braille.
Everything about this song is just fly, bubbling, risin to the top. It just gels. Es-Nine took what was once a happy sample, and put some ANGUISH into it. UNNHHHH!!!
A.V.I.U.S. has a flow on this reminicent of getting slashed 45 times with a stiletto, OUCH! He is just slicing at you!
Reach For The Stars-
This song had me pushing pause, and running for my Bong, which is a good thing.
Another crazy beat from Es-Nine, this one MARCHES, Es-Nine is the king of the March Style. He is a Hip Hop General of this Rap Army.
This is another one of those songs on the album that should be a single. (By my count there is at least 7 singles on this album. Which is unprecendented.)
As for Cysko... Dave Herrera already told you about those Biggie cuts, this song should have been on the Notorious soundtrack with that alone.
The lyrical value of the hook on this song is Priceless. "I Sit and Wonder, Without Music would I Be, Lost in Life with no Goals Ambitions or Dreams?" !!!
Cysko changes it up too! Instead of the insane complexity of his phrasing habits, he fucks with taking to one cut with the precision that only a National DMC Champion can exhibit.
Holy Fuck! This is another Single!
This is a completely unique song, because who else has The Dilated Peoples personally writing rhymes about Colorado for their album? And Rakaa kills it.
Another perfect selection of cuts by DJ Cysko Rokwel, throwing some motherfuckin A Few Good Men in that shit? WHAT?! Classic. And then A.V.I.U.S. just smacks the shit out of the haters, and might have even outshined Rakaa? Yeah I said it...
This song features Braille of Lightheaded, and its my favorite Braille song that I have heard since 2004. He goes hard over this beat.
These guys performed this song with Braille ON THE FLY, at the D-Note, and it was CRAZY. They did it perfectly, and Braille just unleashed over Es-Nine's beat.
The way the beat and the melody drop in for the hook is so perfect. and so smooth.
The thing I gotta say about this song is, that it is yet ANOTHER magnum opus of cuts by DJ Cysko Rokwel, at the end of the song. Who is doing phrasing like this? Who is digging for samples like this? This dude is a real Hip Hop DJ. Colorado Rappers should be throwing massive amounts of money at this dude, because your album would be so much better.
The rest of the songs are great Hip Hop music. They might not have stuck out to me, but they are the type of songs that once all the singles get played out, make great rare gems for underground Hip Hop DJ's. And even on the songs where the beats and rhymes may have not been speaking to me, Cysko still did his thing. So this album is SOLID, which more than more than I can say for 95% of the albums out there. I usually like a handful of songs from an album, but skip over the rest, but not with "Set in Stone".
This is the sound of Denver personified. Well done homies!
This album drops on February 28th, make sure you attend the Release Party! And BUY the album. I know I will. It's well worth it.