Eon MC Etc. & The Libra – Race Music 2 – Album Review
The sequel y’all – and five years exactly to the day here on our pages since I reviewed the original Race Music back in 2016! Honestly I always wonder how that kinda stuff happens…sure there’s a possibility that it’s a planned event, but there’s also a possibility that as an artist, we kind of get this sixth sense thing goin’ on that tells you when to create…we’ve all experienced inspiration that seems to come straight outta nowhere. What if it’s just intuition? I suppose that’s what I’m saying. Either way – you’re never gonna find me complaining about more Eon MC Etc. to listen to – we’ve featured this dude’s music on our pages in many ways over the years, usually rockin’ a collaboration of some sort, just like he is on Race Music 2. Bringing The Libra back for round two – reppin’ that United Statements label as always – you can always count on this whole crew of talent to bring something wild to your speakers.
The short “Intro” at the start will set the tone and bring the conceptual aspect to this record crystal clear to your speakers in just twenty-two short seconds, but just in case you’re missing it, here’s a quote from the man direct. Eon MC Etc. had this to say about what you’ll find on his new record: “Race music is the pre-cursor to “R&B,” as a generic label for Negro music and not necessarily a real genre or specific style.”
“Yes it is true that I’m one of the best at this” – there’s another quote for ya, chew on that while you listen to the opening cut called “Pretty Girls” – Eon ain’t lyin’ to ya…as far as my ears are concerned, he’s only spittin’ straight facts with a comment like that…hell, I’ve been sayin’ it for years myself. I’ll admit – the way-down-low vocals of this cut took a moment or two to adjust to on that first spin…I wasn’t 100% convinced at the beginning that it was a part that would hold its own in comparison to the vibrant life that MC Etc. laces into the mic naturally when he gets rollin’ later on. Over time & experience listening, I felt like I appreciated the different dimensions of the vocals on this cut a whole bunch more…all-in-all, if you’re listening, there’s about like, five different ways that The Libra & Eon end up approaching the sound at the very least. From accessible stylized hooks to dissonant ones that are more challenging to absorb, from lead vocals that have that inspired spark to background layers wild’n’out supporting them – “Pretty Girls” is a collage of different vibes that merges the past with the present day from a unique set of angles. Hard to argue that it’s not gonna be the personality of Eon in that main verse that makes the biggest impact overall, but the main chorus hooks are equally strong by the end of “Pretty Girls” too – there’s a lot about the cleverness in the recording of a cut like this that should have no problem drawing you in to check out the rest of Race Music 2. It’s an ode to that booty at the end of the day; there’s more to it like there is with all-things-Eon MC Etc. when it comes right down to it, but yeah, it’s about good times, celebratin’ the beautiful, and cherishing the “Pretty Girls” in this world – right on.
“Don’t” will take on social-media, superficiality, and the bizarre notion that you could find ‘the one’ through some kind of app like Tinder or whatever. I’m an old married grey-bearded dude whose dick may as well exist in a different dimension at this point with how unused it is…but yeah, “Don’t” get me wrong, I hear ya…the logic in this cut is sound as far as I can tell, or what I can imagine. I’m sure there are those two people you know right now that feel like they’ve beaten the odds and they’re the happiest they’ve ever been – and shit, hopefully they stay that way! Is it unlikely to find love online? I dunno – I get where Eon & The Libra are coming from…I think there are places that it would make sense, and definitely places where it sure as hell wouldn’t too…but when you’re lookin’ at it that way, I mean, it really isn’t all that much different from the crapshoot that is ‘real life’ either, you feel me? “Don’t” ends up addressing something much more important overall…which is really, “Don’t” be so fuckin’ thirsty all the time. Because that’s the real ugly part y’all…like damn…if there isn’t about a million other things on any given day that are more important than smashin’ some ass. Easy to get wrapped up in the game for a while, I’m not disputing that…but eventually I’d wager most find the hole experience to be hollow AF. LOL @ spell-check…I meant exactly what I typed – always do.
“I Got To Have Her” is a complicated cut…there’s stuff that I suspect has probably got a few obstacles in between listening ears turning this one all the way up in comparison to the others. Largely it’s the dissonant factor…which, either might be a natural clashing of the tones between The Libra & Eon MC Etc. that they could have to accept as part of the deal in working together, or it’s something that they’re seeking out directly…in either case, that’s completely still up to them & in their control – but the reality of how the masses out there tend to listen to music, it does create an instant barrier between about half. Which is a lot! Because then you factor in style, genre, personal taste & what not…and that audience narrows even further potentially. There are many quality ideas at work on “I Got To Have Her” that do work – in fact, many of the layers do – even in the instance of when they’re using a contrasting tone that jars with the music in the main hooks, it’s not like what they’re doing doesn’t work – it’s just an acquired taste, and one that tons of people have a really, really damn hard time acquiring. Dissonance is akin to that whole list of words people have a hard time hearing out loud…panties…moist, that kind of stuff…tonally, “I Got To Have Her” has got a bunch of that stuff goin’ on. Hooks-wise…I’m probably on the side of more work can be done…the whole “need her in my life, life, life, life, life” thing – I’m seeing a whole lot more opportunity to strengthen lyricism when you hit that fifth repetition in any song that’s sung directly and not the result of an echo effect…but maybe that’s just me. Personally, I think the strongest hook in “I Got To Have Her” is revealed right at the start…the whole “apple to a cherry to a cherry to a plum” thing was solid…never 100% sold on the mix, but I did like the way it all dropped & kicked into gear…as you slide into the first verse, that’s probably my own favorite spot here. Ultimately it’s a busy cut despite appearances…when you listen to the DNA of this tune at its core, I’m not entirely convinced that this duo didn’t overcomplicate this one at times with a couple extra layers.
Best example I can give ya of the difference between the effect of dissonant tone verses what’s more on-point melodically is the difference between how naturally your ears will accept what they hear in a cut like “Internet Bae” verses what they just experienced prior with “I Got To Have Her.” Both cuts still have their own unique ideas that work, but one track slides with undeniable smoothness & accessibility in comparison to the other. Thematically, concept, and cohesion wise…I mean…it should probably be noted that “Internet Bae” is probably just about the polar opposite to “Don’t” – which was only a couple of tracks ago y’all…and we’ve gone from swiping right being a bad thing to lookin’ for love via a healthy stalking on Snapchat or the Gram is the mission & fully acceptable now? Like I was tellin’ ya earlier – I’m long outta the game as a married man…but how far we’ve traveled conceptually between tracks three & five on Race Music 2 makes me seriously thankful that’s the case – I ain’t navigating a back & forth between mediums and all the emotions that come along with a heart or a thumbs-up from a stranger, that’s not me. Don’t get me wrong & don’t get it twisted – I’m actually all about “Internet Bae” – of the songs I’ve listed that all seem to tie into this cut in one way or another, this would be my favorite of the bunch…it’s just that it gets me questioning the cohesion in the record more is all. As a single snapshot, no problemo – it works and I’d have no problem at all turning it right up where it belongs – there’s a ton of melody and real singing on “Internet Bae” that works well in their favor. But in terms of having this appear only two doors down from a song that expresses pretty much the entirely opposite sentiment – that’s where you’ve gotta wonder what the goals are. Tight record? Tight songs individually? Concepts that work and tie-in every song together? Contrasting experiences that don’t? That’s something only The Libra & Eon MC Etc. can answer for certain…but I’ve got a lot of love for “Internet Bae” on its own.
Alright. So. I’d probably argue that the ideas are stronger in the majority of that first five cuts we listen to as oppose to what’s on “No Cap” afterwards – but in terms of the execution, they’ve got important stuff happening in the mix on this sixth slice from Race Music 2. Basically, everything is right where it should be here…between the music to the microphone, from the lefts to the rights, they’ve got this locked down – you can hear they’re incorporating a few of the methods & ways they’ve approached the vocals on past cuts here, but you can hear the difference in the results – this is achieving the tone they’re looking for. A real deep dive into “No Cap” will reveal a lot more R&B/Pop inclinations – right up to & including the direct use of a vocal hook that only one artist has ever used – and that’s Michael Jackson. I’d assume it’s intentional…it’s not modified to disguise it, so you’d have to assume it’s definitely a known thing…and say whatever ya like about MJ, the reality is the man knew his way around music and the art of creating a hook – and that tiny fragment added in to “No Cap” actually becomes a significant part of the reason as to why you might dig on this particular track. Whether they’ll cop to the use of it, or if they even realize it…honestly I don’t know…the brain has a serious habit of filing away pieces & melodies that it wants to hang onto, and sometimes that shows up in our music in a way that’s almost beyond our control. Would everyone out there hear this the same way I am? Hell no! But not everyone out there is listening to music for the majority of the days they spend on earth either. I am, so I hear details like that and I hear how they contribute. Does “No Cap” have anything else in common with The King Of Pop? That’s pretty much a no…it’s not like this duo is out to copy the guy’s sound whatsoever, which leads you to believe a piece is just a more natural inclusion that seemed like a good fit, which ultimately it is. Most folks, even those that might figure it out ain’t gonna make a comment on it anyway cause damn near every ‘music journalist’ is about sunshine & good times. I’m here for what’s real. “No Cap” borrows a piece, uses it for something altogether new, & that’s more than fine with me.
We’re definitely in the mood for love here on Race Music 2. I’m not opposed to it…it’s hard to say that treading through themes we know so well inside & out are going to really move the needle when it comes to establishing identity & all that…but tracks like “Let Me Know” are still gonna provide a whole bunch of people out there with a vibe they can connect to that’s been tried, tested, and true for years. It’s got one of the smoothest sounds you’ll find in the first half of the set, that much I can tell ya for sure – there’s not much stoppin’ a track like “Let Me Know” from finding an audience & a bunch of ears that’ll dig on what they hear – and not only is the whole cut smooth AF from start to finish, the writing stands out on this cut as well. Particularly right there IN that hook – the fluidity & flow, the precision & professionalism – you hear that here in full-bloom, and it’s right on the money in every aspect. “It’s kinda clear to me you want some other D in them drawers” doesn’t just sound great though – it’s a freakin’ genius line. In my opinion – “Let Me Know” isn’t the kind of song I really need to make an argument for – it’s got massively universal vibes and the kind of tightness overall that connects 100%. Execution and focus on attention to detail leads them to victory here, and they accomplish it all with their swagger & style intact. You’ll notice a few things that make that happen…there’s a more minimalistic design to the music that gives them more space to shine in the vocal department…the added space to make the magic happen with the vocals adds that pressure to make sure they’re at their very best when it comes to the tone, and you can hear the effect of how that all plays out. “Let Me Know” becomes one of the most accessible cuts and single-worthy tracks in the first half of the lineup.
Eon MC Etc. well knows I just call things like I hear’em – heck, he’s made our top-ten list of the year in the past for his efforts, because the man at the top of his game is pretty much unlike any other. If I’m being entirely honest with him…I’m not 100% sure I can say I hear as much of him in this particular record in comparison to what I’ve heard in the past, though of course, this is a collaborative effort. I’d be interested in how other people are hearin’ this album though…it’ll be interesting to find out if this has hit the mark for his fan-base and whether the sequel was deemed to be justified in the court of public opinion out there. Not that it matters to the creative process behind the scenes…good lord am I thankful the artists & bands we know for the most part don’t make that a priority to cater to – but yeah – the end results in what they’ve got here on Race Music 2 should provoke an entire range of opinions I’d think. Like, I listen to a track like “Dr. Fever” and the dynamics, structure, and sound seriously POP in all the right ways…you can feel a cut like this and how vibrant & lively it really is at its core. As for the rest – I dunno…there’s parts of me that feel like “Dr. Fever” is a newer cut to the catalog, and not quite as familiar to The Libra and Eon MC Etc. as the rest of the set is in listening to the final results. I felt like there are moments where you can really still hear the search for the right melody that fits the vocals – and it’s a bit tough to drift in & out of that as you listen, no matter how incredible the rest may be. Props to moments like the breakdown around the 2:40-ish mark and the absolutely mind-blowing solo from the guitar you’ll find afterwards…not just impressive musicianship, but all-out addictive texture in the tone you’ll hear. Even that though, I wasn’t always sure completely fit into a track like “Dr. Fever” so much as felt like a ‘well we should try this’ type scenario…there’s no doubt they’ve got some majorly stand-out elements that should have this cut getting its share of the attention…but I’m not convinced this cut would exactly be a highlight example of what’s really gonna keep the people coming back either.
When repetition is effective, it’s a huge asset – you can hear that in “Lawd Hep Me,” which is the longest cut on the record with about the least actually goin’ on by comparison to the rest. Do I like it? Yes actually, I do. I don’t think “Lawd Hep Me” is gonna be the track that nets them the awards this season, but I do think it’s a really solid cut in the lineup of Race Music 2. They know what’s up here – I don’t need to tell them and my observations on this cut wouldn’t be anything they don’t already know themselves – “Lawd Hep Me” latches onto its main hooks and pretty much dares to rock them for five minutes straight. Is it gonna hold up on repeat & over time? That’s probably gonna be a much more individual thing…for some that repetition & the length is gonna induce a little unavoidable wear & tear. For others, myself included, I think what you’ll appreciate most is the fact that “Lawd Hep Me” is as tight as it is…they might be rocking with a seriously defined set of just a couple main hooks here for the most part, but they stay right in the zone and make sure that the repetition in this cut remains engaging through the performance they’ve put in. Musically it’s vibrant, the vocals are laid down with confidence – and all-in-all, a cut like “Lawd Hep Me” is proof that you don’t always need to add the kitchen sink into everything to have a solid track on your hands. In the context of this thirteen tracks on Race Music 2, it also does things decisively different than the rest in terms of structure & the approach, and that diversity always stimulates the brainwaves as we listen on the other end. Bottom line is, they’ve put in a performance that transcends any obstacles that repetition would put in the way and come out winning.
Again – when something is right, it’s right. There are no questions, there is no doubt or dissention, it just IS. Listen no further than a track like “This Message Will Self-Destruct” for an example of exactly what I’m talking about. Is this the most irresistible cut on the album? I could absolutely make a case for that. Any particular reason that is? Sure! Tons of’em really. Vocally, it’s as aces as aces can be – the melody & tone are on-point to the nth degree, and there’s not a solitary second of how this is sung that I’d even think to recommend changing. Seamless flow, stunning vocals, perfect design…I mean, it just all stacks up right in-line with where ears would wanna hear it all, and I can’t imagine there’s a conclusion out there from anyone that’ll tell’em otherwise. The REAL tragedy of “This Message Will Self-Destruct” is that of course being the record’s arguably most accessible & universal cut, obviously it’s gonna be the shortest one by a significant portion of time…it weighs in at a gentle 2:46 – and I’d imagine every one of us will feel the exact same way in that we’ll all want a whole lot more of THIS right here. It’s flawless by every conceivable definition…the production is spectacular, the performances are sensational, low-key, and stunningly stylistic…the lyricism is there as well…grounded, down-to-earth, relatable – this whole cut has depth, it’s got soul, it’s got a vibe that connects in every possible way from every possible angle. I’d be shocked if the people out there didn’t notice the differences here in the degree of single-worthy sound…to me, it’s gonna be natural that “This Message Will Self-Destruct” will be THE favorite for many.
Keepin’ the momentum rollin’ in one of the most significant switches between the style & sound of what you hear in any of these cuts back-to-back, there’s a massive degree of difference between the vibes of “This Message Will Self-Destruct” and “Freak” to follow, but both these cuts come out fully flawless. I maintain…if you’re looking for universal acceptance & accessibility, “This Message Will Self-Destruct” is gonna win that battle every time despite its most delicate demeanor – but “Freak” ain’t really all that far off when you factor in how addictive this performance is. The Libra & Eon MC Etc. absolutely commit to some of their wildest ideas on “Freak” and it makes all the difference in the world. Fringe ideas can often uncover some of the best in what we do…you’ll hear how unique “Freak” is to this lineup, and how fearlessly they’ve performed this, while daring to delve right into a series of moves & vibes they haven’t even tested on this record yet. That kind of confidence & the level of artistic integrity it takes to bust out a serious change of mood, pace, style, and sound like you’ll hear at this point in Race Music 2 is an enticing element in itself…the noticeable switch in direction is guaranteed to get people paying attention. They’re still singin’ directly to that booty y’all…thematically, they’re still sticking with the sexy stuff and keepin’ that all goin’ – but between the multiple parts they put into this cut, how versatile & vibrant the music and vocals in this track are…I mean…this should be a cut that has no problems at all standing out and getting its fair share of your ear-time. “Freak” is fun when it comes right down to it, and I’d wager a bet that’s largely the intention behind its creation…this is that moment where you went from being unsure you were gonna get to that time you wanted between the sheets, to discovering you’re about to be in for the ride of your life, metaphorically speaking and physically as well, you dig?
I am…clearly too old to know what the heck “One Mo Gan” would mean. What the heck is a ‘Gan?’ The online dictionary sure as shit ain’t helping me out, unless this track is indeed about a ‘generative adversarial network’ – which I’d wager a guess that, it isn’t. A classic case of being able to enjoy something you know absolutely nothing about – I’m not hatin’ on “One Mo Gan” – it’s another really lively cut on this record, and it keeps the roll going through the final third of this record no problemo. Credit where credit is due, there is a massive range of ambitious ideas, style, and sound to be found throughout Race Music 2 – and “One Mo Gan” is another extension of that multi-dimensional aspect it has overall. Ultimately, it’s one of the most significant departures in that respect…and while there can be a bit of risk in having so many different vibes comin’ at listeners track after track, a quality cut is a quality cut, and it’ll always connect when it is. As listeners, we’re all willing to go on a journey that will take us through a lineup of unique ideas as long as the consistency is there and the conviction you find from moment to moment exists – and “One Mo Gan” has no issues providing all that & more. With its digitally scattered sound pouring out from the lefts & the rights, and the personality of these artists getting a real moment on the mic to remember for their enthusiasm & passion…I’d imagine “One Mo Gan” will make a favorable impression on most. The low-key moments…it’s harder to say…the shift between those and the upbeat vibes of “One Mo Gan” takes place with a country mile’s worth of difference between these realms of sound…part of me thinks there’s an opportunity to sharpen those spots up a little to let those more subtle moments make more of an impact, and I felt likethey carry the most memorable aspects of this particular cut, so it might be worth the effort…but I’m not really complainin’ all that much either about the final results. “One Mo Gan” packs in a ton of personality.
The final cut, “All Over Her” likely reveals the strongest connections between the R&B sound you know, and the way that these two have innovated that in multiple directions throughout the course of this record by comparison. With it having a bit more of a traditional approach…the strength of the bass-led vibes…the stellar performance in the main hooks with the vocals…I felt like “All Over Her” was a great way to conclude this record with a real standout song & more universally beloved sound. At the very least, it’s a more recognizable combination of music & vocals at work that the masses will be more apt to get their minds around quicker, whereas a lot of the first half of Race Music 2 presents a whole bunch of challenges to the norms of making music in that respect. As they cruise to the finish line in style with the slick & smooth vibes of “All Over Her” – you’ve gotta love how the final four cuts on this new record raise the stakes and right the course in-full. Vocally, I think “All Over Her” reveals absolutely sensational moments from the microphone – the main hook of the chorus is pure brilliance in the performance, and while using repetition to their advantage once again, they essentially put on a clinic on how to do it right. Because this right here? This is addictive, full-stop. The hazy vibes of “All Over Her” are genius – but so is the precision in creating such an effectively loose atmosphere…while it feels like the world is audibly melting around you in a mesmerizing & fascinating way as you listen, you can’t help but notice how remarkably sharp, perfectly detailed, and genuinely flawless this final cut is…and if this don’t have you reaching for a repeat of the entire experience to take this ride all over again, I don’t know what else could have. Eon MC Etc. & The Libra end Race Music 2 on an undeniable highlight – a whole series of’em actually, if you’ve been reading this right & listening with functional ears attached to your head – it might be more of an uneven record in some respects, but you also have to admire how authentically ambitious it is overall, and how many different things they’ve tried along the way as well. Respect!
Find out more about Eon MC Etc. at the official pages below!
Find out what we do at sleepingbagstudios, and be the next to be featured on our pages by clicking here!