Album Review: Configaration Volume 1

Configa’s first release through Chuck D’s SLAMjamz Records proves to be a proudly singing canary in a mine of half-hearted mumble rappers — reminding us about the core of what makes hip-hop’s heart “beat”, both literally and figuratively. Configaration Volume 1 is a celebration of the timeless elements of hip-hop that fans have come to love in the decades of its evolution.

Configaration Volume 1 is a celebration of the timeless elements of hip-hop that fans have come to love in the decades of its evolution.

The four instrumental tracks on Configaration Volume 1 showcase the breadth of Configa’s skill as a producer and beatmaker. Part of this is in how these tracks are quite distinct from one another, yet the smooth progression of the album allows for dramatic style shifts without a jarring feeling. For his tracks with vocal features, Configa is keen and calculated. Each piece is tailored to bring the right message and sound while remaining a natural part of the grander tapestry of the album.

‘Mind Control [UK Remix]’ is a stand out track on an already great album. With great vocal features and beats reminiscent of a funky 007 opener, ‘Mind Control’ delivers a stark snapshot of today’s technological and political climate. Instrumental swells and heavy bass make this a banger with a message, a song that makes you think while you nod along. With a recently released music video, this track is definitely one to fit the tone of the ever-growing paranoia many feel under the watchful eye of “big brother”.

‘Mind Control’ delivers a stark snapshot of today’s technological and political climate.

‘From the Soul’ ft. Craig G & ‘Make ’Em Pay’ are like two very different sides of the same coin. While ‘From the Soul’ is a more self-focused declaration of dedication to the craft and being true to oneself, ‘Make ’Em Pay’ is almost like a reprisal — it lets those previously dismissed whack rappers know that their “spotlight, their gimmick” could be over in a minute. A more pointed and aggressive song, it’s a great counterbalance to the more internally focused ‘From the Soul’.

Mellow, jazzy interludes weave seamlessly into booming bass and that reserved yet aggressive sound made so iconic in the Golden Era and featured throughout Configa’s impressive body of work. Living up to his true-school movement, the music feels timeless yet imbued with qualities old heads will appreciate and new heads will find familiar but not “dated”. Configaration Volume 1 is a sonic journey that conjures up a feeling of strolling through a vibrant world with headphones on, introspective and observational — and I encourage you all to take that ride.

Configaration Volume 1 is available on iTunes, Bandcamp, Amazon and other digital outlets. Visit Configa.com and SLAMjamz.com for the latest on Configa and the #TrueSchool movement.