|Just as it's impossible not to be saddened by the terminal loss of hip-hop as a one of the most culturally important musical forces of all time, it's become equally galling to watch how its underground has stood still this past decade. For every exception – Antipop Consortium's Arrhythmia, Blackalicious' Blazing Arrow, Spank Rock's YoYoYoYoYo – there have been dozens of overly comfortable records from the arm of the genre charged with producing its creativity and originality. But just as Why?, Flying Lotus and Roots Manuva have bucked that trend already this year, Cambridge, Mass. MC K-The-I??? has renewed the faith some more.|
The deft fineness of Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow is in its brevity. With just two tracks from 14 seriously breaking the three minute-mark, the now-L.A. based rapper's intense flow is never allowed to overrun, nor is Thavius Beck, cooking up his first electronic beats since Saul Willaims' Niggy Tardust, given the time to overindulge. Such pace means that when the pair get one wrong and "Sylin'" is possibly the only brief example, they can follow it up with a winner, in this case the immediate "Never Heard It Done Like This," featuring a marvelous guest turn the Consortium's High Priest. Once the 180-second mark is breached, it's done with purpose. "Just Listen" has heavy beats to match its heavy rhymes and while "Man Or Machine" initially feels like a bonus track tacked on, it succeeds in closing the album with an ambitious flourish.
Both longer tracks best demonstrate a lyrical move away from K-The-I??’?'s rather self-explanatorily introspective debut Broken Love Letter. At times the mix of million-mile-an-hour delivery and extensive vocabulary is just too impenetrable for the broader message to get through. "Cell-Shaded/Daydreams/Nightmares" may well be telling the future, but without bizarre charms similar to Del The Funkee Homosepian, such crystal ball gazing is all too cryptic. But even if he didn't get that vision across with awing precision on "Decisions" and Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow were pure vocal gobbledy goop (it’s not), it would remain a concise example of where imaginative underground rap can and should be. Take note one and all. - Ragged Words