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Album Review: AMiAM's The Combine

Local rapper releases debut LP

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The Combine

As a member of classicist crews like Vets of Kin, Beat Ministry and Swamburger's Second Subject family, 27-year-old Orlando MC AMiAM has preached the gospel of roots hip-hop from the sidewalks to the city's top indie stages for years. Recently, he's been nearly peerless in his rise to the area's rap elite. That easy dominance has made the demand for his next solo step a growing itch; this long-awaited debut LP is a fully realized validation of the hype.

Making it particularly momentous is a guest list stocked with notable Orlando talents (Vets of Kin, JBiz, Kaleigh Baker, Beautiful Chorus) and seasoned national guests (Rah Digga, Young Zee, Copywrite and Statik Selektah collaborator Reks). Moreover, the well-crafted musical framework dares to keep pace by tastefully framing the rhymes with classic flavor and flair.

But anchoring everything is the easy, iron composure of AM himself. The original hip-hop ethos of his native New York has clearly been a trusty lodestar because his core is perfection of flow. AMiAM is all precision and snap –
no sag or drag anywhere, just solid-steel fundamentals.

Through guts, aptitude and reverence, this album brings vital new luster to old-school glory. "Floor 2 the Ceiling," "Sound of a Genius" and "My Bad" are dense, snap-tight killers. "Go Hard Or Go Home" and "Quote It" are good, hard mob steppers. But the choicest cuts are jazzy jumpers, "Flood Watch" and "Ladies and Gents," and '70s soul-draped epics, "I Got a Story" and "Bendición."

As AM tells it, The Combine represents his focus on what he feels is essential hip-hop: "good beats, good rhymes." It's that simple. Only it isn't. And, with this bright work, he's pulled off that magic trick with verve. Among the lazy, image-driven rappers clogging the landscape, AMiAM is much more than simply a traditionalist reminder of what hip-hop used to be – he's a sterling exemplar of what it should be.

AMiAM, 24/7
with REKS, PanikVision, Lazy Afternoon

10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1
The Peacock Room
1321 N. Mills Ave.

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