Coming straight out of Wilmington, North Carolina, are emcees KonSCI and Tronic form MindsOne. The crew, with members originally hailing from D.C., Albany, and Charlotte, formed in Wilmington, NC in 2002, when emcees Tronic and KON Sci met and later connected with DJ Noumenon. In 2006, the duo released an EP titled; The Time Space Continuum and in 2008 dropped Transitions, their first full length LP. With their latest release; Self Reliance (Soulspazm Records), MindsOne delivers a conceptual project that is self decribed as “bringing the listener closer to their own reality and the world that surrounds us all.”
Self Reliance features a pretty stacked guest list that includes production from Kev Brown, iLLmind, J. Rawls, Oddisee, verses from John Robinson and cuts from DJs such as Rob Swift, Excess and Allies crew members J Smoke and Spictakular. Content wise, MindsOne discusses topics such as financial woes, the need for greater social awareness and standing strong in the face of devastating loss.
Self Reliance is a definite throwback and full out underground album. Production wise and lyrically, MindsOne does not hide who this album is for. It’s not for the radio crowd, nor is it for the club crowd or really even for the ladies. The album begins with a throwback track in the form of “Earth Sciences” that features that dusty horn that we all remember from the mid-90s. The lead single and Kev Brown produced “Legion of Doom” follows and even though the track has been lauded, the mundane production is just…okay. The real positives appear in the form of “Sharkweek” feat. John Robinson, the sick “State of Mind”, and the JMT-esque “Seven Signs”. As emcees Tronic and KON Sci are extra lyrical with a style similar to that of a young Non-Phixion.
Some albums feature great production and so-so to flat out horrendous lyrics. Others feature an incredible lyricist with suspect production (i.e. Canibus). As Self Reliance continues, MindsOne puts both together, painting words on amazing musical canvases. “Might Be” is an interesting track, that describes the mistake that many up and coming hip-hop artists make, overrating themselves. The second half Self Reliance is an enjoyable listen, especially with tracks such as “Keep Building”, “Break” and “Voices”. A very strong positive of Self Reliance is it’s incorporation of the DJ. More often than not nowadays, DJs are used more for mixtapes and tours than for studio albums. But in this case, with the inclusion of several very talented and known DJs adds to the overall strength of Self Reliance.
Self Reliance though dope, does have it’s flaws. At times, the listener is almost searching and waiting for the a track to breakthrough and wow, but it just doesn’t happen. MindsOne also buys into several underground hip-hop cliche’s, conceptually and lyrically. However, these are minor flaws, as the group delivers a nice, consistent release. Self Reliance is a truly fitting title as the duo KonSCI and Tronic craft a winner.