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Mash Hall Love Family Thicker Than Blood

Mash Hall Love Family Thicker Than Blood (2006) is the third release from Mash Hall, but in many ways, it is the group’s first full album. (2004’s Mash Hall was an EP with only six tracks, and The Mash Tape in 2005 placed Mash Hall tracks alongside remixes of songs by other mainstream artists.) The two MCs on Love Family, Ronnie Voice and blesOne (sometimes as himself and other times as his alter ego Bruce Illest) combine to create a perfectly concise and balanced rap album. In a tasteful display of restraint, we get 15 solid tracks with very few skits/dialog samples to distract from the purity. This is concentrated Mash Hall, try not to overdose.

The album begins with a hypnotic prayer chant of the title, is this a cult? What’s going on here? After a few tracks, the album settles into a groove, and the alternating verses from blesOne and Ronnie Voice are steady and hard. Both MCs rap in a ‘Gatling gun’ blur with no space between the words. How do they breathe? I have no idea. Mash Hall is a speeding bus with no brakes. This is an out-of-control carnival ride, it’s exciting but you sure feel like you’re about to crash! The production frantically hangs on to the bouncing, scattered lyrics, or is it the other way around? Mash Hall are the triathletes of hip-hop, endurance and raw energy are their specialties.

Two tracks, in particular, I would like to highlight. The first is “Father’s Day” rapped entirely by Ronnie Voice. This track captures the feel-good production that makes Mash Hall ideal party music. Ronnie’s lyrics have the easy swagger of a wild west gunslinger ambling down a dusty trail. The lyrics tell a story of a villain who doesn’t want his kids to grow up like him. The other song that stands out for me is “Butterfly” performed by blesOne. In this track, blesOne weaves a complex and dramatic story about a woman who is nicknamed Madame Butterfly. The story immediately draws the listener in with pathos and visually expressive language. The words from blesOne’s mouth shoot out like air from a plane propeller, thudding and continuous. At first, his voice seems monotone, but the more you listen, you can detect a wide range of emotion and inflection.

Love Family is part turntable scratch extravaganza, part storytelling masterpiece theater, and part neighborhood bully that just wants to watch the world burn. Mash Hall approaches rap like a barnstormer in the 1920’s complete with barrel rolls and wing walking. They are musical daredevils risking it all for the entertainment of the crowd. There is an awareness of the inappropriate lyrics, as the last track on the album addresses Mash Hall’s often offensive language. It’s called “My Favorite Word,” and the track is a ‘sorry, not sorry’ type of apology. Mash Hall explains they are sorry if four-letter words offend you, but they aren’t changing so listen with caution! (Written by Novocaine132.)

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