On last year's "Beats Rhymes & Blunts," producer Matt Rego, aka Verbz, laid out true school beats for an ensemble cast of MCs. He's back, and for his 2017 follow-up "The Fever," Rego's partnered with Deploi, a solo rapper who's full of similes and easy rhythm with a pock-marked voice that sounds like it developed from a diet of sand.
Using sharp snares and chopped samples, Verbz provides him with a throwback sound. There are traces of the golden era -- mainly in shoutouts to iconic MCs -- but "The Fever" feels more like the mid-2000s than it does the early '90s -- more Sound Providers circa 2005 and less Jeru 1994.
Over fourteen songs Deploi explores an array of topics. He's crowd controlling via "We Are Here" -- "put your hands up / forget your cares" -- and brow beating mindless consumers on the anti-capitalist anthem "No Money" by shouting down the systemic greed and selfishness of our me-first economy.
"Ride" finds him narrating a first-person account of car trouble -- broken down roadside in the desert, stuck somewhere between Las Vegas and Reno (though he's really not sure) ad-libbing through the opening, "I don't even know where the hell I'm at."
They party rock, philosophize and story-tell, but they also stretch a bit too, adding bits of soul to their boom bap foundation on songs like "Lil Suzy," "The One" and "Organized," which all feature guest singers who add melodic splashes around Deploi's verses.
So, if you're searching for a respite from rap music suffocating under the weight of product placement and empty materialism, then maybe this is the cure and "The Fever" is just what you're looking for.