PhaShaRa brings his first release of 2012 in the form of Pathways EP. The multi-talented rapper/producer is part of Chicago rap group, Beatmonstas. Fellow member Noble Dru also provides vocals for the album on track 3, “Langston Hughes” as well as production on “Code”. In the 1990s PhaShaRa was part of the, again, Chicago based rap group SAC.FLY. He shows experience and knows hip-hop well — it will only take one listen of Pathways to get hooked on his stuff.
The 13 track EP was released on both CD and….. cassette. Yeah that’s right, cassette. This is a real smart touch and definitely worth picking up. This releasing reflects PhaShaRa’s style. He keeps it real, and produces tracks that are reminiscent of a time in music where everything mattered, from the delivery to the packaging. Each track reveals something about the rapper, whether he is reflecting his mood, talking about life or raising certain issues. From track 1 to track 13 it’s evident that each has been paid careful attention to. The album does not contain any weak fillers, only well-produced, complete tracks.
PhaShaRa produces 10 out of Pathway’s 13 tracks, creating a range of strong and relaxed soundscapes. The remaining 3 (“Sunshine”, “Code” and “Dreams”) are taken care of by Illmind, Noble Dru of the Beatmonstas and Passion HiFi, respectively. All of the beats are generally mellow and it sets the tone of the album. They frame Pha’s rapping nicely and let his smooth flow be the focus of each track.
The stand-out track of the album is “Code”. It also features the well-delivered rapping of Sadat X of the famed rap group, Brand Nubian. Rhymes from both MCs are smooth, strongly delivered and clear. The pairing works well together and creates a great finished track, only helped by the excellent production. Sadat and PhaShaRa talk about the code of the streets in the track and how survival of the fittest can sometimes push one outside of his usual demeanour. If there is one track that will leave its mark, this is it. Not to devalue the rest of the album, but just to highlight it at its best.
As well as Sadat X and Noble Dru, Pathways provides a host of guest appearances. “Illmind” features verses from Beatmonstas affiliate Reefa Rei and Detroit rapper Finale. Tracks “Heart Strings” and “Economic Woes” also feature Chicago rappers Dee Jackson of 80′s Babies and Savant. There are also cuts from two more Detroit natives, DJ Rice The Sound Transmitter and DJ 3rd Rail. The variety of sounds on the album produced by a range of artists create a fuller, more-complete finished album.
PhaShaRa has produced an interesting EP that is very engaging. His relatable rapping and clear delivery make each track identifiable. Along with this, his skill as a rapper and producer complement each other throughout. Pathways is a great collective of tracks that fit perfectly together into the finished product. From the start of the album to the finish, Pha will deliver to you something unique.
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