When it comes to groups that are uniformly considered to be underground rap royalty, few acts eclipse The Band of the Hawk. Whether its impact, bodies of work, or just pure creativity, few unsigned groups in hip-hop come close. Though they individually continue to release great music, as a group the quality and consistency of their projects has undeniably been coherent and consistent. Noah Archangel, King Aka Yeaux Majesty, Ash Ra Aka Houey Freeman Fka Ashtonomics, P.ey3, Grynd Seazon, and Juskwam better also known Band of the Hawk are now back with their latest work – the 2nd installment of the crew series #BOHUP consequently entitled “BOHUP Vol.2”. The project includes 15 tracks, 2 producers, and 7 emcees.
You can feel the traditional The Band of the Hawk aesthetic in full effect right from the start, with an authoritative monologue introducing the project. Next track “Welcome to the South” sets the tone for the project, as a brassy soul sample chopped up in classic BOH style is the backdrop for a back and forth of flowing verses.
“BOHUP Vol.2” already hits a peak at the third track “Nu”, riding on top of another breezy retro soul production. This is followed by the knockout one-two punch of “Ch@o!” and the 808 driven “Dirty Dolla$” capturing what people expect from a The Band of the Hawk project.
Both of these aforementioned tracks have diverse, but dark instrumentals, allowing the BOHUP members to competitively flex their lyrical prowess. Right from the beginning, this album owns hard-hitting soul-tinged beats and intricately devised rhyme schemes that seamlessly ignore the commercial in exchange for the conscious.
This combination pays off consistently throughout the album, creating a punchy, yet spacy atmosphere for The Band of the Hawk to express their lyrical finesse. “Mitsurugi” sets off on an intimating tone on a chilled downtempo beat, before easing into conversational rap exchanges.
By the time The Band of the Hawk launch into another rhythm and soul sortie on “Tears” it’s clear they are spitting in blatant refusal of the rules of any standardized tempo or tone, cramming together a flurry of important-sounding words and their performance sees bars and flow as good as they’ve ever been.
The palpable passion and worldly wisdom abounds on “Eat Up”. KDB Eastcoast & Mz. City drop in for some quick and dirty verses and melodic hooks on “Body”, which gives the album a slight sonic twist. The chilling nature of the production on the upbeat “Boomin’ in Ya Jeep (Remix)” is so on point you’d think The Band of the Hawk invented the style.
With articulate flows the lyrical efforts on tracks like “Swell Lovely” and “H.TX.” sound like instruments themselves. The Band of the Hawk shine with killer wordplay, which largely aid the gripping consistency of this album. Despite any similarity it may share with past BOH works, “Stand Up” is a hard-hitting stream of consciousness which uses the group’s comprehensible vocal technique to perfection.
The crew in The Band of the Hawk bring only their finest worth ethic to the studio in their respective verses and songs. “Seppuku” and the epic “Down the Rabbit Hole (Blow)” [feat. Vita Rose] play testimony to this fact. “BOHUP Vol.2” deserves your undivided attention for its entirety. Get a pair of top-tier headphones, a fat blunt, and an isolated spot to chill, and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.