The duo met in Colorado Springs, CO. in 2004 through a mutual friend and eventually became members of Four-defied (sounds like Fortified) Sounds, a recording facility and DJ haven on the cities West Side. Ben Bounce, a St. Louis transplant, DJ and Producer. Konflik, the MC and avid beatmaker, quickly recognized each others talents. Although from two completely different backgrounds, they bonded through music and developed a chemistry together. Both recognized what Hip Hop had turned into in the eyes of the masses; A watered down Pop that lost its heart and Soul. Something had to change. After Bounce returned to St. Louis, the two remained in close contact. Both were anxious to get something going. The only problem was the 830 miles of Highway between them. Thanks to dedication, preparation, cellular phones and Emails, the two started making strides. Kon had taken on a job driving trucks coast to coast, and the two had plenty of time to exchange ideas. The Compass was born was born shortly after.

Okay, so the amount of music I listen to everyday (as I'm sure y'all do too), once in a while you open up that one oyster that has a pearl in it, that one album/artist that makes you sit up like, 'Hold on a fuckin minute'. I know alot of you had good things to say after copping The Loyalists' albums, and I gotta say, I had that same feeling when listening to The Compass. I should mention here that one of their joints '#9' is featured on our That Realness V.II Mixtape (coming shortly), it's actually my favourite track on the album. Soooo, I'm NOT gonna post the song here, just take my word on it.

The duo introduce who they are on The Lowercase which is the anthem of the album. Ben Bounce hits us with another craaaazy beat, a hyped, noisy, banging, clanging march of a neck-breaker that'll make you feel like you've just stepped into a warped fairground. I dunno if y'all have ever heard of a musical called Stomp where the group of musicians take ordinary day-to-day objects (brooms, trash cans, trash can lids, you name it) and make instruments out of them, but that's the first thing that popped into my head when I heard this and i loved it.

When I heard You, Me & Us I literally had to re-listen to the track 3 times in a row. Over a haunting beat from Bounce on which a solitary string (violin?) dominates, Konflick's vocals reverb reflectively about a sweet love turned bitter. A song about heartbreak, it is also a perfect example of how production and lyrics can amalgamate beautifully to convey the story and message behind a song. From the gentle patter of rain and quiet rumble of thunder that open the track, to the violin that almost cries the melody, to the echoing effects on Kon's vocals which give you that impression of many thoughts and voices running through your head, to the steady heartbeat-like kickdrum.. this joint is nothing short of perfection. It'll make you feel heartbroken.. even if you're not. And that is some feat for a music track to be able to do.

As I've said before on some other reviews, I find different artists 'dope' for all different kinds of reasons. In my opinion, on most of the tracks, Konflick isn't one of the emcees that is trying to blow you away on some intricate, tongue-twisting wordplay tip. He does, however, possess in abundance a quality that, especially in these times where everybody and his dog raps, is becoming more and more crucial in determining which artists stand out in the crowd. That is, charisma. Flo Spitta is that track on the album where the emcee tells yall exactly how dope of a rapper he his, and although he's lyrically on point here, it's just the sheer conviction behind his words and his venomous delivery that will engage you. "Here comes the verbal narcissist that spits ill linguistic lyricism tha'll blow ya block like nitroglycerin. Some rapper only spit on your album if you come with benjamins, but I'll always spit a verse to anyone that wants to listen in...I put rhymes together two by two like Noah's Ark with the beast and rapper bite em like rabid dogs 'cause I'm infecting the streets, Take it to the next level like stairs with ya feet and fold rappers up like I invented the crease, And got you bending ya knees, lyrics hit hard like a fist fight and leave you on the ground begging me please.." The production is suitably dark. With an organ melody, thunderous rumbles and ominous bass it conjures up images of a movie baddie being introduced to it's audience. Not just attacking the mic with ferocity, Kon displays impressive lyricism throughout. I love that he stands alone and let's his lyrics speak for themselves on the Intro over a minimalist melody, on an acapella that closes Supervillainous, and on his verse at the end of #9 that has him rhyming over nothing but his own beatbox. A emcee confident in his own ability. And rightly so.

And if you have any doubt as to his creativity, peep that #9 (I know I keep mentioning it, but it really is dope!), a fantastic science fiction fantasy that I've listened to so many times I can't tell you. It is an incredible track, It's like listening to a movie audio rolled into a few minutes. The orchestral, epic production is just divine and I love how it (along with Kon's delivery) intensifies in all the right places; the strings increasing in volume and pitch on the chorus accompanied by cymbal splashes, but then calm on the verses and allow Kon to do his thing.

What I love about i-Disciple is the versatility that both Bounce and Konflick demonstrate. Have you ever listened to an album that's pretty good, but every track is, well, similar? I know I have. While Bounce definitely has a signature sound, and Kon displays certain characteristic traits throughout, every track has something different to offer and the two seem to mould and intertwine their lyrics (and delivery of those lyrics) and production in perfect unison. On The Light, Kon gets his storytelling on about a kid growing up battling rejection, neglect and depression. A vocal sample cries "Where is the light" throughout this sad, compelling tale and the beat actually makes you feel the loneliness of this kid (as if I wasn't sad enough after listening to You, Me & Us lol :p). The way Konflick enunciates his words slowly on the chorus "Life ain't always what it needs to be, sometimes waking up doesn't come easliy..." causes the listener to empathize with the subject of his story. I won't spoil the ending but it's incredible stuff.

A range of issues are addressed on The Compass, from an old skool vibe that's down to some dope cuts on The Garden State Anthem, to politics (The Empty Prophets) to social observations (Voice NA) to make believe (#9), to love and heartbreak (Love Is, You Me & Us) and just real issues that affect us all on a daily (e.g. One By One). This is one of those personal albums that is going to touch your heart in some way or another, every one of you will be able to relate to at least one of the emotions or experiences or tales that is relayed to on at least one of these tracks. To me Konflick and Ben Bounce are a perfect partnership; Kon's skill is showcased perfectly by Bounce's production, and in turn, Bounce's beats are elevated and reinforced by the way Kon rides them. Needless to say, I absolutely loved this album, it's one of the best that 2008 had to offer. If these cats are being slept on, it is truly a shame, but you all can do something about it. My advice? Wake up, buy The Compass and you'll find your way to some innovative and strong Hip Hop.

Listen to You, Me & Us HERE!

Listen to One By One HERE!

Listen to The Lowercase HERE!

You can cop The Compass and listen to track snippets at CD Baby. Do it, then spread the good news!