Review – Night Owls 4 – A Shot in the Dark
Syntax Records, yup, they’re back again. Fresh of the nuclear-esc explosion of RedCloud’s West Coast furry “Hawthorne’s Most Wanted”, Syntax releases its second Night Owls compilation in 10 months. This comes in the midst of a flurry of Syntax releases. The label hasn’t been this active since 2003, but a fresh distribution deal and some hot artists kindled the Syntax fire in 2007.
Night Owls 4 is an action packed, 20 track, hip hop rampage aimed at complete stereo domination. There is no doubt the CIA is listening to it at this very second, decoding the secrets of the universe through its hip hop mastery. I’m going to attempt to dissect it for you. But, being that it’s a little hard to review a compilation CD without going over every single track, I’m going to break it down in to positives and negatives:
Positives: Car radio, home entertainment system, or MP3 player, wherever you jam these cuts beware; cops everywhere will try to ticket you for breaking noise ordinances. This CD hits hard. I don’t think there is one track on this album that isn’t dope.
It’s hard to point out who and what is doper when the whole disk booms. I got to say Cookbook and UNOMAS scored big with “Always Shine”. The production is a super speed apocalyptic chant mixed with slamming hits and well placed kick-snare 1-2 beat. The classic L.A. Symph flows keep you grooving too. Another track that stood out was Listener’s “Older than I was”. If you know listener, you already know what you’re getting into; unorthodox beats and mediocre mix- yet still dope lyrics that teach you how to criticize your middle class life. Check out “Knuckle Up” by Kaboose, Man of War’s “Shouts Out”, and Capture, Propaganda, and Sojourn on “We Ran With It”. Forget it man, just check out the whole album!
Negatives: Syntax Records promotes this disk as something any up-and-comer artist could potentially get on, and I feel that. But typically the Night Owls comp is about 50% Syntax affiliates or actual artists on their roster, and Night Owls 4 is no exception. Redcloud, Man of War, Cookbook, Uno Mas, Motion Plus, DJ Wise, Scribbling Idiots, and Braille are all Night Owls 4 artists who have had previous involvement with Syntax. I would prefer Syntax Records keep Night Owls exclusively unsigned, raw material artists to keep from any conflict of interest. Plus having huge hitters on your album (although it promotes sales) really means the newcomers get outshined.
Also, this is supposed to be exclusive songs although I know at least one song, “Shouts Out” by Man of War was on another Syntax release. BUT, I can’t complain on this. The song is remixed and plus it’s one of the hottest tracks on the disk. In fact Man of War and DJ Wise come so ill on this track I’d probably purchase the whole album for just that track.
Overall, I can’t have any musical complaints on this album. It would defy reason. Final say; cop it.
Release Date: January 8 2008
Record Label: Syntax Records
1. Kaboose featuring Christin Hart – For You
2. CookBook & UNO Mas (of L.A. Symphony) – Always Shine
3. theBREAX featuring LMNO – We Will Not Stop
4. Page One & Because – Emceeing Is Believing
5. NoVA Infinite – Spell It
6. Motion Plus – Hold On
7. Maximillian – California Soul
8. Listener – Older Than I Was Before
9. Soul P, Jeremiah Bonds & Sivion featuring DJ Wise – First of All
10. DJ Wise – A Shot In The Dark
11. Kaboose featuring ManChild, Playdough & DJ Promote – Knuckle Up
12. Insufficient Funds featuring Afaar – Something You Said
13. Man of War – Shots Out
14. The Pride (Sintax.the.terrific & ManChild) – Test Market
15. Paradox featuring Sean P – Live & Direct
16. Scribbling Idiots featuring DJ Promote – Fine Line
17. Capture, Propaganda & Sojourn – We Ran With It
18. Cal Logic – Choose Your Battles
19. Braille – Okay With It
20. RedCloud & DJ Wise – 21 Jump Street