January 3, 2011

Somehow, someway, there were worthwhile records left off our OCD year-end litanies. Accordingly, we’re spending the next few days paying tribute to the rap, R&B, and African records that slipped beneath the surface.

[Somewhere in a Detroit basement]

Apollo Brown:     We should call our group, The Left.
Journalist 103:     Right, ok.
Apollo Brown:    No, The Left, fool.
Journalist 103:    Oh I get it.  That’s catchy isn’t it?

The lack of a distinctive moniker and an ungoogleable name seems like the most plausible reason why Gas Mask didn’t manage to make noise outside of purist hip hop circles. After all,  he music offered is remarkably consistent and raw.  Shrouded in a black and white mystique rarely found in contemporary music, the collaboration between producer Apollo Brown, emcee Journalist 103 and DJ Soko eschewed current popular trends and relied on a tried and true formula of dusty samples, heavy drums, and razor sharp rap ability. Dilla’s influence clearly looms large, but Gas Mask neatly skips calls of outright derivation by being consistently engaging and flat-out dope.  It’s toxic out there: protect your lungs properly. —Dan Love

MP3: The Left-“How We Live”

MP3: The Left ft. Kool G Rap-“Frozen”

MP3: The Left ft. Guilty Simpson-“Reporting Live”

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