Mother Russia has churned-out more than her fair share of wordsmiths who are swelling with passion, and deeply entrenched in heavy analyses of human behavior; finding inspiration in the drab, surroundings of their icy landscape. Following the footsteps of such Red luminaries as Fyodor Dostoevsky and Leo Tolstoy, Ivan Ives imports a flowing dose of his Russian roots to the LA hip-hop scene. With Iconoclast, Ives' second full-length, released under the wings of his own No Threshold imprint, the street-savvy emcee brings an outsider's view to the Capitalist migraine that dominates so many of hip-hop's affairs. Indeed, Ives possesses the qualities and skills of “indie” hip-hop's articulate style and DIY convictions, but the staccato and glitch-laden production of songs, like “Carpe Diem” (featuring 2MEX), “Honor” (feat. Cappadonna of Wu-Tang) and “Revenge” come together with an adventurous and old school flare. His songs are catchy on a level that transcends the experimental leanings of collegiate beats and rhymes.
And though his writing is informed by his early experimental days when he went by the name Nicotine, Ives knows that in order to break the rules, one most first know the rules. This West Coast by-way-of Brooklyn by-way-of the former U.S.S.R. immigrant has more in common with the auditory appeal of such acts as Kanye West, Jay-Z and 50 Cent thanks to the accessible beats by his longtime producer and collaborator Fresh aka The Hitman. Ivan Ives manages to keep his underground credibility while flirting with mainstream sensibilities - and that's a tough line to walk. His words are strong, and long is the way and hard is the road that leads out of hell into the light. For Ives, the beauty is in this dark ride on the mean streets.
His inspiration comes not from blingin' and big pimpin' but by thriving on integrity in the shadow materialism in a cut-throat world. Love lost, the great beyond and personal improvement are part of the game as Ives composes a body of work that shines with honest-to-goodness talent. Like Bob Dylan, 2Pac and Grandmaster Flash, Ives' songs are his own stories and his own commentaries shaped by his unrestrained style.
He doesn't mince words, nor does unleash a torrent of expletives to underscore the immediacy of his message. He understands that the pen is mightier than the sword and his seamless lyrical transitions from English to Russian and back unfold with a poetic surge that will have you rushing to rewind. He's a salt-of-the-Earth man, and his subdued accent, informed by his bi-coastal upbringing culminates in a sound that's smooth and angst-ridden, energetic and hard, but never stoops to a simple thug vibe. His shit is for real, and the epic Rusky tone that rises up in the anthemic “Victory” (feat. Vast Aire) (MP3) informs Iconoclast, forging an album that is as stoic and eloquent as the Eastern land in which his roots are planted.
01. Got It
02. Victory (feat. Vast Aire) (MP3)
03. Mad Game
04. Carpe Diem (feat. 2MEX)
05. Olivia Josephs
06. Soul (feat. O.C. of D.I.T.C.)
07. How It Is
08. The Recipe
09. Honor (feat. Cappadonna of Wu-Tang)
10. Worldwide Hits (feat. Fresh aka The Hitman)
11. Lay Low
12. Rap Ethics
14. Zzyzx Road
15. Life Is A Bitch
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