The trippy minimalism of Moral One’s production on his and Boogalu’s full-length debut as Alert312 recalls the street psychedelia of Eric B. & Rakim, Divine Styler and Pete Rock & CL Smooth without summoning a spirit of retro revivalism. Selling Of Vice & Virtue all the more is the combination of steely-eyed grimness and compassionate hope with which they spit their evangelistic, apologetic, and autobiographical rhymes.
They’re more for the backpacker and crate diggers than the masses satisfied with more commercial hip-hop, but the brothers have hooks, too. And those are apt to be found in the atmospheres, textures, and samples as they are in the couplets, tight as those are.
Their prior work as soloists and together show ALERT312 to be among the most musically omnivorous of heads within or without the Church, but a good barometer of that catholicity of taste comes through here, with tracks that sound like pure percussion, interstellar cosmic disco synth pulsations, and what might be an Iron Butterfly organ solo.
Some use of a word that may be deemed an expletive by some may take a smidgen of explanation, but beyond that, it might be difficult to imagine a more fully-realized and creatively aspirational hip-hop album this year.