The Board of Education: ‘Menace’ You Really Can’t Get Closer To Creative Perfection Than This

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The alternative hip hop group Board of Education consisting of emcee Darryl Watson , producer-guitarist Ryan Teodoro, and composer-saxophonist Mark Thomas have dropped their  Ep Menace as well as the separate single, I Saw You In Space.

Menace, the debut EP by the New Jersey based hip hop group, The Board of Education, is released on the upstart Travelers Club label. The EP also features contributions from a close associate of the group, Jamal Harrison on two tracks as well as production by Camden native Shawn tha Future on one track. Combining influences ranging from UK dubstep to jazz-fusion, Menace fuses ideas from different genres to form one consistent experience.

I began this journey at the end of the Ep and worked my way backwards. You really can’t get any closer to creative perfection than this. The amazing samples and playing that goes on and the sounds that you would never expect on a hiphop record in a million years, are what initially got my attention…and then there are the lyrics. They are so out there in left field and yet for some reason, make perfect sense. The style of rap is unique as well, it’s hard to describe, very hard-hitting but never aggressive. It’s 90’s Old-School meets the future!

The backbeat and tracks are also unusual, there is a good amount of bass which you would expect but not the pounding that you hear in the more mainstream stuff, the sounds, instrumentation, loops and beats are woven very tight and seamless, yet everything has a loose improvisational and  almost offbeat effect. I am seriously awestruck by this.

The beats and rapping are great, and the arrangements and lyrical focus are revolutionary. Ten years from now all hip-hop will sound like this, but I can’t believe it’ll ever be done this well. This is inventive hip-hop that can easily beat mainstream works around the place, and then ask for more.

It’s obvious right from track one, “Brain Out the Cage”, then onto “Menace”, “Dive In” and “I Don’t Care” that is one of the most experimental, and “ahead of its time” albums in hip-hop right now. The single “I Saw You in Space” delivers much of the same. If you’re tired of the hip-pop music that they play on MTV, and on most mainstream radio stations, with no meaning at all, then listen to this album. What you will find is an extremely gifted group of artists, laying down great rhymes verse after verse. It may take you a while to absorb it all, but it has substance. The music will take even more time to absorb, but this is music you feel; very experimental, extremely original!

The Board of Education delivers a fearless, uncompromising and sprawling masterpiece. It doesn’t surprise me that it hasn’t garnered a lot of attention in the casual hip-hop community yet. None of these artists have ever made any attempt to market themselves to a mainstream audience. That’s not a compliment or a fault, just a fact. Regardless, any fan of any type of music should find this album enthralling and worthy of their time. With sounds and a style that touches hip hop, jazz, shoegaze and trip hop, there really isn’t anything else out there that sounds like this! Highly recommended, for a new sound experience.

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