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Malachi Perez may not be “phenomenal” yet, but he's working on it. The fresh-faced MC hailing from Washington recently released his debut full-length album, 'Stereo Phenomenon'. Although the record was released independently, don't be surprised when his next album is released with the backing of a record label.

While Malachi shows promise with his debut, the 20 year old still needs plenty of improvement. He brings a lot of energy to the table, but at times seems just a bit off point with his rhymes. And don't tell Mally that he isn't there yet. “You want Guru and Premeir? We got the west version here” he raps on the first song, "Fifty Fifty". The Premier part is closest to the truth; Noviss, who is the “co-pilot” on the album and handles all the production, churns out an excellent batch of hip hop beats for Mally to rap over. Mally has some good lines, and it's clear he has talent, but he gets bogged down too often talking about his skills. When he gets personal and vulnerable, he really excels, on such songs as “Jessica”, “Walk My Way”, and “Love Letters.” But on other tracks, he comes off as maybe a bit too desperate to be respected. On “The Go Round” he raps “We hit the hardest artistic since Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.” Strong claims indeed. Later in the song he claims, “I'm afraid that I might be the last of my kind/or maybe I might be the prototype.” I wouldn't go that far. Even if he's “sick of waiting in line for a piece of the pie,” he's not quite there yet.

Another thing that Mally needs to work on is his hooks. He has a few good ones("Walk My Way", "Love Letters", "Consider This"), a few decent ones ("Stereo Phenomenon", "Fifty Fifty") but too many mediocre ones. "Look" is a classic example. “Look, I'm an MC but you can't see me/Look mom, I made it and plus it's so easy/I'd like to welcome you to the other side/Ah ah ah ah/it's just a piece of my mind.” It comes off rather awkward, as well as uninteresting. Ironically, later in the song, Mally raps, “Look past the hook, that is all that I ask of you.” Sorry Malachi, buy if you claim to be the Guru of the west coast, then the listener is going to expect more on your hooks.

Mally continues patting himself on the back with "The Fix", as he raps, “In many respects, I'm even better than the best,” “I'm the incredible hulk of hip hop and I'm fierce,” and “I'm the prince of the underground.” Granted, a large part of hip hop is the attitude and having confidence that you are better than the next guy. But when you have yet to even put out a full album, it's best to tone down the ridiculous boasting. I have no doubt Malachi can develop into a fine MC, but first he needs to learn how to fill his verses with more substance, instead of fluff about how good he is.

Fortunately, Malachi brings out the potential in a few songs on the album. "On Walk My Way", he stops talking about himself for awhile to write a song about the thrill of chasing and falling in love with a girl. On "Jessica", Malachi takes off his “Hulk” cape and shows his vulnerable side, as he raps about the heartbreak of having unrequited love. Then, Mally covers the uncertainty of love again with "Love Letters". Interesting that three of the best songs on the album come when Mally is able to open up and show us his human side. The other standout track, "Consider This" featuring Lightheaded, shows Mally being inspirational. “You can't run, you can't hide from life/so just let your faith guide you, and leave your fate to God.”

When it's all said and done, 'Stereo Phenomenon' is worthy of a listen. Noviss really brings some fresh music to the table, using jazzy horn and smooth piano samples along with some head-nodding beats. Malachi shows that he has it in him to be a solid MC, it's just a matter of which side of him decides to show up. Here's hoping that in his next album, Mally tightens up his flow a bit, and writes with more substance.

Release Date: 2004

Label: N/A

Tracklisting:
1. Intro
2. Fifty Fifty
3. The Go Round
4. Walk My Way feat. Sirens Echo
5. Fancy Things
6. Look
7. Jessica
8. Interlude 1
9. The Fix
10. Warnin
11. Love Letters
12. Interlude 2
13. Consider This feat. Lightheaded
14. Stereo Phenomenon
15. Take A Second (Bonus Track)

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