A year ago I was writing about Elzhi and Fashawn's announced Illmatic-tribute projects with some optimism, alluding to the projects as writing exercises that could help both emcees in the long run. Fashawn dropped his tribute two months later, but Elzhi ruminated over his dedication record for “years,” according to the press release. Why?
Elzhi's take on “N.Y. State of Mind”, naturally appropriated to “Detroit State Of Mind”, is the first glimpse into his meticulous impression. He enlisted the help of Will Sessions, a Detroit area six-piece with a reputation for detail-attentive recreations of Nas instrumentals, to personalize the project rather than take the work of Q-Tip, DJ Premiere, Large Professor and Pete Rock at face value. Will Sessions though are impressive in its live-instrumentation version of a DJ Premiere classic, putting them in the company of Truth & Soul as bands gifted at reworking hip hop classics.
As for Elzhi's Nas impression, well, are we really that blown away when a rapper references a classic record with his own twist on the famous lyric? Are we to believe that Elzhi can conceive a couplet that can sit in company with Nas' “the smooth criminal on beatbreaks” couplet? Elzhi is a great rapper with the potential to carve out a notable solo career. The best news in the press release is that he's cut all ties with Slum Village. The Nas thing is cool, but do you, homie.
The delay on Elmatic is attributed to recording, touring and getting kicked out of Slum Village, as well as obtaining new management. To attone for the wait, Elzhi is releasing Elmatic for free on his website.
Download “Detroit State Of Mind” here.
Elmatic is available for free download on May 10 at Elzhi.com.