El Da Sensei has been one of underground hip-hop’s most exciting MC’s, and every time he comes out with an album or drops a cameo, you can’t help but move back and be impressed by it all. He has returned along with The Returners for a new one called GT2: Nuworld (Coalmine), and the man continues his wicked lyrical ways once again.
This time around he’s joined with Rakaa Iriscience, Sean Price, Treach, Bekay, and Akrobatik among others but throughout it is very much El’s game, and that’s a good thing. For the most part, the production of The Returners is very good but I found one problem with it, a minor one. The album features scratched acapellas from hip-hop songs of yesterday, something a lot of groups of the mid to late 90’s did, so it has that classic feel to it. Sometimes I felt the use of scratched vocals overwhelmed a song, or it gets to a point where the song felt more like the artist being scratched than El. There’s a track that samples Mobb Deep ridiculously and to good effect, but at the end I caught myself saying “oh yeah, this is an El album.” The scratching is great, don’t get me wrong, but too much of a good thing can sometimes be too much.
The one song I really liked, and one that didn’t feature any scratching, is a remix of “2 The Death”, by M-Phazes, featuring Mela Machinko. It sticks out because it features female vocals in the chorus, the only song on GT2 to do so. It isn’t new in hip-hop but it managed to end the album on a high note.
Could the album have been improved with a better balance of things, perhaps, but I don’t want to get overly critical here. But what is here is a good album that only gets weighed down occasionally by excessive scratches from the past. Otherwise, a fine job from El & The Returners.