AWAR & Vanderslice- The Winning Team (album review)

The duo of producer Vanderslice and lyricist AWAR create a dark and gritty opus with their latest collaboration, a full-length album entitled The Winning Team. The two man team have a knack for creating eardrum pounding, grimey hip hop music that attacks its listeners with the intensity of a melee attack on a battlefield. As an emcee, AWAR succeeds in keeping things interesting by assailing the microphone with razor sharp rhymes and fully fleshed-out concepts. On one of the album's opening tracks, a hard-hitting offering entitled "Rotten Apple"AWAR taps into something ravenous and lets loose a visceral assault that sets the tone for the rest of the album. Vanderslice backs his man up with a stark beat that sounds like the tense opening track of an Italian horror flick. The duo effortlessly keep that aggressive "New York shit" vibe flowing over the course of the album with tracks like "Orange Boxcutter 2", "Broad Daylight" and "High Grade". But the fellas also seem to realize that no matter how much their fans may want to hear hardcore beats and rhymes, a memorable album manages to do more than just repeat the same formula from start to finish. In response, the team switches things up a bit on tracks like the R&B tinged "Cloud 9" (featuring the ever soulful LaToiya Williams) and the "hold-ya-head-up" anthem "Ready for the World". Another factor that works in  the album's favor is the fact that the guest artists and producers that are featured on project tend to mesh well with the duo's sound. Two of the best examples of this are the tracks "Reincarnation" (which was produced by West-coast based beatmaker Trox ) and the title cut "The Winning Team" (which features guest verses from emcee/producer Has Lo).  Overall, The Winning Team lives up to it's name and comes across as a well sculpted offering from a winning duo. The album is a shining example of why AWAR and Vanderslice are held in esteem when it comes to hardcore, street level hip hop music that bangs. Yet it also showcases two artists who recognize the importance of challenging yourself, your music and your fans. Dope work peoples...don't sleep.


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