Title: From the Ashes
Basics: Let's see -- I've been doing YAFI for a while now, eight months to be exact. From the Ashes, the latest album from former Brew Crew member Knox, is the first hip hop album I have received. Thank god I got Knox's album first, too, because the dude has chops. It scares me to know someone who grew up in Glendale can flow like Knox, but there's a rhyme for every reason, and just because Glendale is...well, you know what it is doesn't mean that some talented MCs can't come from its suburban glory.
Best Song: The talented Mike Meyer just conducted an interview with Knox this week, wherein he picked up on Knox's penchant for old-school hip hop. No song better exemplifies this feeling than "Grief" (feat. Nick Pullin). Bolstered with an old-school beat straight out of Eric B. & Rakim's "Microphone Fiend" -- the latter of which Knox has shared the stage with -- "Grief" is an unfairly catchy song with its boisterous beat and silky smooth hook, compliments of Nick Pullin. Not one to be outdone, Knox lets his vocals do the talking, with his quasi-gruff, E-40-esque singing style. All of these elements add up to a complex song, but still a rather good one.
Worst Song: "Emergency" also tries to do a lot in its three and a half minutes, yet, unfortunately, it falls a bit flat. The song sounds a bit out of place with its siren sounds (yeah, numbnuts, the song is called "Emergency") and its auto-tuned sounding hook. It's an interesting change of pace for the album, but Knox's style is so dominant and enjoyable that I don't necessarily need a break five songs into the album.
Suggestions: Keep writing from what you know. Some YAFI bands have some actual substance to their songwriting, and other bands you can tell are just clueless. Knox is anything but clueless, having led a trying life, battling his own demons as well as some evils from others. There is nothing that translates better to songwriting than those trials which we face. It's easy to see just how Knox's trials translate into polished, worthwhile music.
For what it's worth, I don't usually keep YAFI albums in my collection, but Knox is a keeper -- joining the ranks of Joey Arroyo Band and Tugboat.
If you're a musician from the Phoenix metro area and would like to have your music reviewed in You Asked For It (our first-come, first-served and often harsh record review column) please send it in an envelope marked "YAFI" to:
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