Sunday, November 17, 2013


This review has been a long time coming, but good things come to those who wait Wisdom Seekers.  The Protocol is the long-awaited project from the creative minds of B-more emcee Ullnevano (@ullnevano) and VA beat representative Logic Marselis (@logicmarselis).  I've been aware of the project for a while now, and it is very good indeed that it has finally seen the light of day.  It has taken a hot minute for me to properly review The Protocol, for Wisdom tries to be very thorough in his approach.  I wanted to let the listening experience sink in, then listen again, and listen again, in order to give an honest description and depiction for listeners and readers alike.

Thirteen cuts deep, The Protocol starts with "Again", showcasing Logic Marselis at his best with bringing dope samples to life.  Ullnevano hits the ear with stream-of-consciousness verses that blends with the soundscape provided by LM.  "Go On" continues the trend as beats and rhymes collide, creating an explosive example of studying the craft of Hip Hop.  Ullnevano paints pictures by using the mic as a brush over the Marselis canvas.  My personal favorite on this album has to be the third offering on the album, "Can't Complain".  "Filled out the Scan-Tron" is the pathway 'Neva takes to vividly depict living life with no regrets and moving forward without letting roadblocks hinder.  Logic Marselis dug into his vast crate of soul samples to unearth an uplifting joint to take listeners on that path.

I don't know how true Ullnevano's claim was at the beginning of "Hold" that he waited four months for beats from Marselis, but this tidbit opened the doors for the song to take shape.  Another dope foray into territory that you don't see or hear in music today.  You can clearly hear the 9th Wonder influence on the title cut "Protocol" with the soul-based chops present throughout.  'Neva does another good job dropping gems over the sounds that abound. 

"City Limits" is going to be on constant repeat, as Ullnevano, Soosh*e, and Logic Marselis himself drops lyrical bombs over an engaging and engulfing joint.  Kudos for everyone on this song bringing their A-games.  Sean Armstrong has a strong showing on the next TP offering, "Epic".  As usual, the musical backdrop drives the energy on this song, with piano keys providing the emotional push for Armstrong and 'Neva to wax poetic.  Nice nod to the Purple Tape by Sean Armstrong on this one.  With the title "RZA Rings" I was envisioning a Wu-inspired song complete with Saturday morning kung-fu aural effects and lyrical acrobatics that the average listener may not be able to decipher.  It doesn't quite live up to that heady comparison, but it is still a cool joint nevertheless.  Featuring Action Figures, "RZA Rings" is still a nice nod to the Wu-Tang spirit.  Next on the menu is "The Jam", another ode to those songs that stick out in the minds of true Hip Hop heads.  Ullnevano, the self-proclaimed "Word Wizard" on "The Jam" makes certain that he brings heady lyricism and witty wordplay to the forefront.

The energy of the album did start to lag somewhat, however, towards the end of The Protocol.  "Good Grief", featuring Teddy Faley on the rhymes and Chinch 33 on the cuts, starts with a panned and filtered sample, but it doesn't quite allow for the emcees in place to spit heat.  It definitely is not a bad song, by any means, but it doesn't quite measure up to the best of The Protocol.  It is good to hear an actual joint with some cuts.  It has almost become a lost art within Hip Hop circles in 2013.  "The Idea" has a nice vocal sample to compliment the lyrics of 'Neva.  "Get up get out and get something" is the mantra spit during the chorus on "Get Something", giving the listeners another uplifting and positive message to digest (with a nod to the Outkast classic from their debut album).  Closing out The Protocol is the dope "Catching On".  Sounding like a vintage Little Brother song reminiscent of The Listening or The Chittlin Circuit 1.5.  Marselis again brought the heat, bringing life to a soul-based sample and allowing 'Neva to stake his claim as a force to be reckoned with on the underground scene.  "Beats, rhymes and life is what we're on" is an apropos statement, especially on this blog.  That simple phrase sums up the mission for The Protocol.

I'm impressed with the offering that Ullnevano and Logic Marselis has presented to the masses.  Not only should Harm City and the DMV be proud of The Protocol, as it is one of the best joints of the year, but it holds up very well with other underground, independent albums and mixtapes by artists such as Rapsody and Oddisee.  Make no mistake, this album reaches further than the states of Maryland and Virginia, and should make noise no matter the region if the listener appreciates a balanced approach to music-making.  Support the artistry that The Protocol presents to the Hip Hop world.  It is a breathe of fresh air in a sometimes stale atmosphere.  You can cop this breathe of fresh air at the following:

Beats, rhymes and life is what we're on...


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