Musical careers can arc in unpredictable ways. New chapters can arise with seemingly no relevance whatsoever to the preceding ones. Listeners enjoying/enduring this past summer’s FIFA World Cup anthem probably had no idea that Aloe Blacc rhymed some fierce cerebral abstractionisms as one half of Emanon 15 years ago. Whoever the hell the demographic was that bought Black Eyed Peas albums probably had no idea that Taboo ran with Longevity in a crew in the early 90’s. Or even that the dude who runs a Freakshow for the world’s largest collection of dicephalic animals on the Venice Beach front walk produced some early Percee P bangers. Things can switch up fast, often making consistency a luxury. To this effect, Edo.G is a sure bet in Hip-Hop. As he said himself ahead of his new album, “I always seem to adapt and change while never changing.”.
After All These Years, and it has been some twenty going on thirty, fans can count on the Bean’s rap legend to keep recording the kind of music he was acclaimed for on arrival in the genre. So with the title a direct allusion to the time-span of his career, then one of the album’s themes presents itself as affirmation that Edo’s still got it. This is after all the genre that largely considers you a geriatric husk when you turn 30; a laughable mentality that is perpetuated at times as much by the artists themselves as the cohort of young listeners. A quick eye-balling of the tracklist identifies names like Pete Rock, Chuck D and Camp Lo granting instant legitimacy to the merits Ed has accrued over the years. Sure enough, he still rhymes at an octave somewhere between brick and mortar with bars composed just as sturdily, and still adopts a documentarian approach (“Da Beef Goes On”) although not as in-depth as he has done in the past. The street-hardened rhymes, as always, avoid stepping over into glorification as the graphical violence is balanced with as many discourses on the consequences on the individual and community. Production-wise it’s perhaps an obvious statement to make that Pete Rock is responsible for raising the quality average. “2 Turntables And A Mic” is sparsely majestic, whilst “Make Music” is populated with more stout drumwork that seems to induce the accompanying strings into motion through reverberation alone, and also induce possibly the album’s best writing out of Edo.
It was never a question of whether fans would embrace After All These Years; this is classic Edo.G through and through. It may have benefited from a shift in the ratio of battle-raps to narratives, as Edo has some pretty great long-form verses in his discography, and new listeners or those who haven’t him on their radars for a few years may find it stale as a result. Others however may relish in the familiarity of an artist making exactly the kind of music that caught their ears in the very beginning.