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Braille - Box Of Rhymes

Release:Box Of Rhymes
Box Of Rhymes
(what is this?) / 32 users have this
Media:[Audio CD]
Recordlabel:HipHop Is Music
Info:The album is released on October 31st, 2006 through specialty shops. The international release date is November 28th, 2006. The album will contain 4 new tracks and 2 remixes, which weren't available on the Japan version.

Beats by
- DJ Essence : 1, 10
- Tony Stone : 2, 5, 7, 8
- Dert : 3
- Relic : 4
- Stro : 6, 15
- Ohmega Watts : 9, 11, 13
- Theory Hazit : 12
- Kontant and Exampler : 14

1. This Year - (remix exclusive)
2. Pour It Out
3. I Wouldn't Do It - featuring Sivion, Theory Hazit, BigRec and Surreal
4. Everything Changed - (exclusive)
5. Antenna - featuring Speech and Nehemiah Booker
6. Evacuate
7. Box of Rhymes
8. The Breakout
9. Humility
10. Together Not Alone - featuring Olivia Warfield
11. Fresh Coast - (solo remix exclusive)
12. Leave Behind - (exclusive)
13. Survival Movement - (exclusive)
14. Enter-Gritty - (exclusive)
15. End of the World
Rating:Our users rated this release: 6.4 out of 10
(Number of votes: 5)   Sign up or login to submit your vote

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Original author/source
Review:Written by John Book

If Braille was talked about on a daily basis as much as Jay-Z and Kanye West are, he would be considered one of today's hip-hop greats. If you consider someone great today, when they still have years of good music ahead of them, does that slow down their integrity and passion to make new music? In other words, if you automatically call someone great, will they just try to repeat the kind of formula that gave them that credibility? If so, then I hope Braille will be capable of creating penultimate hip-hop for many years to come, as Box Of Rhymes (HipHopIsMusic) may be one of the best hip-hop albums of 2006 that no one knows about. Yet.

Box Of Rhymes is determination, skill, hunger, love, and respect for this thing we call hip-hop, and I say that with the kind of attitude deserving of a great album like this. Seven years ago when he released Life First: Half The Battle, he was working with such people as Deeskee, DJ Kno, Sixtoo, and Celph Titled. Despite some of the limitations I felt the album had at the time, there was something that kept me listening. He then came out with Shades Of Grey and the progress between projects was obvious. A lot of time had passed, but this was stil the same guy who was talking about his "Delusive Decorum". 2006 presents us with Box Of Rhymes. In hip-hop circles, there is pride in the elusive "third album", and Braille now has the kind of confidence and pride that he now puts into his music full time, and I will say this right now before I get into the songs: all hip-hop artists should look and listen to this as an example of how to properly produce, mix, and master your album.

Enough gloating, the pudding is here and thus I try to describe the proof I have obtained. Braille has made this album into his own Box Of Rhymes, and he's delivering the type of music that a lot of rappers on major labels would love to be able to say, if they had the skills to do so. "This Year" has him putting his agenda on the table for the next 365 days, defining who he is as a person and as a rapper, (I'm makin' power moves, but not power trippin'/I'm seeking God for directions and wisdom). Once the seeds are planted, he begins his journey with "Pour It Out", layered over a laid back soulful track and a sped up vocal sample. As the chorus states, he has soaked in and now wants to pour it out, a nice way of saying he is going to drop and share the knowledge he has accumulated. Rather than drift and change the topic, the listener is allowed to ride the journey and perhaps see themselves in the lyrics.

I know the term "emo-rap" exists, but I've ignored it because it sounds corny. But from what I'm lead to believe, it has to do with a rapper who speaks emotionally, from the heart. Which is sad, because does that suggest that there are a lot of rappers who are making music without emotion? The one thing I like about Braille is that he isn't afraid to wear his emotions on his sleeve, whether it's about helping out his fellow man, or trying to cope with life presented to him. His spirituality is a major part of his music, it's a running theme throughout all of his songs but it's not in your face. The odd thing is that I'm making it out as if it is the exception, and maybe these days it is.

There was a time when rappers were not afraid to praise God, Jesus, or Allah, and sadly it got to a point of disrespect where rappers were willing to smoke Buddha. Then again, it was Ghostface Killah who once talked about slapboxing with Jesus and licking shots with Joseph. No crazy religious metaphors with Braille, his spirituality is on his side, even on the most hardcore-sounding track of the bunch, the Dert-produced "I Wouldn't Do It". The song also allows him to show off his friends in his crew, including Sivion, Surreal, Theory Hazit, and Big Rec, and together they define their mission in their music, which is to create music with integrity where selling out is not (and will never be) an option. Imagine if Xzibit hit a few rhymes with Mos Def, A Tribe Called Quest, and Lloyd Banks, and you got one of the best posse tracks in recent years with the kind of intensity that makes it an instant classic.

Braille's power on the mic is to be admired, offering verbal slashes while remaining humble, now try to find that on MTV Jams. What is it that they say, "kill them with kindness"? He's definitely killing people with his lyrics, making quick references to singers from Aerosmith and talking about taking time out of his day to worship, and then daring to confront anyone who dares to tell him he can't rhyme or write. Just when you think you have him all figured out, the album leads to a track that finds him in Ninja Tune/Tru-Thoughts territory, with the Ohmega Watts-produced "Fresh Coast". The track has a different vibe to it, I often call it a British sensibility where something unique and different is added to a familiar formula. The song is a slight throwback to the era when rappers like Rakim were doing uptempo tracks, and while some were moving in the direction of slower BPM's, artists in Europe were flirting with the idea of keeping it funky and dancable without fear or embarrassment. It works very well for Braille, and it puts him in the position of being able to work with anything that is thrown his way, without any limitations. With lyrics such as Make way 'cause I rock the floor/Make noise if you want more/It feels so great to be on tour/Many new places to explore, this could easily gain some club airplay.

On the bottom of his box of rhymes is his evaluation, the moral in the form of "End Of The World". The darkness of the title is immediately felt with the strings sample. If the entire album was on the positive vibe, this time the clouds return to the familiar "shades of grey" and line by line the listener feels as if they are about to be closed in. References to his family, friends, his wife, and the witnessing of a miracle turns everything upsidedown. Or is it that we've been in the box of rhymes for almost an hour, that instead of of being closed in, we're being let out into the world again? There's a huge question mark by the time the song fades, things are open-ended but that is the benefit of the album experience. He's allowed you into his world, but the reality is we're all together in the same world, and the moral (if any) is one you'll have to figure out for yourself. That's what I like about it too, it's not just a unidirectional listen, part of his music extends even after the music is over. In other words, thought provoking lyrics does its task by making the listener not only think of how funky the music is, but wanting to hear a level of positivity that isn't watered down or weakened.

I would consider this to be a mirror image of The Roots' Game Theory, an album that was mostly omninous but you had to go through the storm in order to find the sun again. In the case of Box Of Rhymes, it's the opposite. In fact, play both albums back to back and see if you're able to hear what I hear. It's very much playing the world like a chessboard, trying to understand yin and yang, good and evil, and coping with a time in history where anxiety and fear are at an all time high. Braille explores that through writing, using incredible wordplay, and coming up with stories that aren't disposable. He writes in a way that doesn't exclude, instead opening his experiences to show that there's a lot more to this life than going for self.

Sonically, this is one of the best sounding albums I've heard this year. I'm a big audio nut, and I can't stand it when an artist creates more of a budget for their music video than for the sound quality of their music. I know it seems that the powers that be would prefer to make music second rate, but don't second rate your musical legacy. That is, if you care about "crap" like that. There's a lot of punch and texture to these tracks; the vocals are very open, they do not sound clustered as if they were recorded in a closet, or as if the microphone was taped to the bottom of a metal can. Even with the wide range of producers on the project (including Stro of The Procussions), the sound remains consistent throughout, and that is a testament to how Braille wants to define himself as an artist. There is still craft if you know how to apply it, and Braille is on his way to becoming one of this decade's premier MC's.
source: musicforamerica.org, added: Dec 08, 2006
Review:Braille :: Box of Rhymes :: Hip Hop Is Music
as reviewed by Pedro 'DJ Complejo' Hernandez

Braille has a hard job in the rap game. With a genre of music that is becoming more about escape and fantasy, it's difficult to pitch a CD from a guy who's living a regular life. While every young gun is bragging about the millions of kilos they've moved and bodies they've buried, Braille revels in the joy of being a husband, father, and finding Christ. As much as I love Scarface I really have no dreams of participating in the cut throat world of slangin' dope, yet at the same time I'm in no rush to experience the thrills of marriage or fatherhood. But despite no wishes to actually deal drugs, I can enjoy both the extraordinary and reflective aspects of cocaine raps. With Braille though, is there anything I can gain out of his experience?

Braille answers any questions one may have about the universal nature of his music right off the bat. "Box of Rhymes" is full of relevant songs that anyone could relate too. Though he doesn't live an exciting lifestyle (at least comparatively, since being a rapper would be exciting to many), Braille still finds a way to make his music worth peeping thanks to his insightful nature. "Pour It Out" finds Braille releasing all his thoughts and regrets about a variety of things, from missing home to being homeless. His honesty is commendable, but it's the approach that makes the track stand out since it captures a side of life that we all experience at some point. "I Wouldn't Do It" is a track that reflects Braille's refusal to compromise his morals or beliefs regardless of the pay off. At times the track sounds too much like the "I won't sell out and go commercial" whining that a lot of underground rappers make, but Braille and the guest rappers throw in enough social commentary to make it good. "Humility" is almost an unnecessary song as it's hard to imagine a guy like Braille not being humble, but still he makes a relevant track about not taking things for granted. "Leave Behind" is religious track where Braille focuses on doing good while you're alive so you'll have no doubts about your faith afterwards. It's a track that may alienate those who don't believe in the after life, but even if you can't relate directly you can feel the emotion and passion Braille expresses.

The only real complaint on "Box of Rhymes" is the fact that he can be too serious too much of the time. He does switch things up occasionally on tracks like "Box of Rhymes," "Fresh Coast," and "Evacuate," but overall the album is a bit too much on the heavy side. The same can be said on the beats as they all maintain a very high level of quality but can be too much on the organic and soulful tip. To some the heavy sampling and boom-bap drums are right up their alley, but I would have preferred some more variety.

Braille manages to make a dope rap album despite several things going against him. I've criticized non-secular music in the past because I think that focusing on any one thing too much, whether it be god or anything else, limits the success of music. Braille makes music that has heavy religious tones but does not focus specifically on it. Because of this balance Braille is able to make music that has the same message that Christian rap tries to convey but that is more universally appealing. On top of that he gets dope beats from popular underground producers like Ohmega Watts and Stro of The Procussions, which also helps elevate his music above your usual Christian rap offerings. With that said, "Box of Rhymes" is not a Christian rap album. It's an album by a guy who is going through life and trying to leave a mark on the world. He has a positive message and one which will leave a positive mark on the world once more people listen.

Music Vibes: 8 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 8 of 10
source: rapreviews.com, added: Dec 08, 2006
Review:Braille - Box of Rhymes (US)
(HipHop Is Music)

Written by Ahnon Knomis
Friday, 09 March 2007

As Braille's catalog grows with each new release, so does this artists' talent for word play and craft as an emcee. Box of Rhymes is jam packed with mental pictorials backed by passionate lyricism and exceptional production, which accentuates his verbal calisthenics and natural intensity. Box of Rhymes was originally released in Japan while Braille was still touring off his sophomore release Shades of Gray in the US market. Towards the end of 2006, just before the Holiday Season kicked off US customers finally got their hands on the much anticipated follow-up to Braille's sophomore heat. The US version comes to us with a few variations from its Japanese counterpart. This review will focus solely on the US product.

Lets talk about production for a moment. Braille is noticeably consistent with the level of production he chooses for his projects so this is no different. On 'Box of Rhymes' fans can expect production contributions from the likes of: Tony Stone, Relic, Dert, Stro of The Procussions, Ohmega Watts, DJ Essence, Theory Hazit, and a new duo for my ears in Exampler and Kontant. Guest features are held to a very minimum on this album. Don't expect a feature-flooded album where the main artist gets lost. Instead, Braille has contrastingly held the guest list to a meager 3 songs out of 15 on the total track listing. Sivion, Theory Hazit, Big Reconcile, and Surreal each participate along side Braille on the monster track "I Wouldn't Do It". A Dert produced cadence-like anthem about steadfastness and adversity. What? Sell out!? "I'm not gonna do it! Not for a million dollars... I wouldn't do it!". The pairing of gritty drums and sampled child vocals with a stern message makes this one a unique track that will certainly grow on you.

Okay, so even though Braille has kept his guest list to a minimum I'm not going to shield the fact that yes those are the ones I've found myself calling out as highlights in this review. That being said, there is plenty of heat on this album and diversity in his solo tracks. However, I would not do justice to those reading this review if I did not mention a pair of contributing artists on one particular song. Remember a group called 'Arrested Development'? The Grammy Award winning group who brought you songs like: "Tennessee", People Everyday" and Mr. Wendal"? Well two A.D. members lent their vocal presence as guest features on none other than Braille's Box of Rhymes. The track titled 'Antenna' features Speech & Nehemiah Booker over a beautiful Tony Stone produced beat with a laid back and smooth R&B presence. The song premiss reflects on Braille's perspective of life by way of his last few years on the road, struggles in the music industry, perseverance, and clearly his faith. The positive tone of the vocals and soulful voices on this track are in-deed a highlight worth listening often. If I could quote one verse that sums it up its Braille's as he states "I'm not giving in I know this life's infinite so I could never act like my time is insignificant... what we need is a brand new perspective... and our reception comes from the heart... antenna".

Quite possibly my favorite song on the album is titled "Everything Changed". This smooth, piercing, melodious track cuts right into the heart. Its a self reflection by Braille whom through-out the song cries out to God for Him to show anything in his heart that needs to be addressed and help him see it, feel it, and overcome the shortcomings. The song easily makes you look inwards at your own life while a sense of humility and relief overcomes you knowing that if you are in a similar situation and share the same concerns you can be comforted that you are not alone. Braille is both revealing and relevant in his works. That is greatly evident with this track and in my opinion a sign of a true artist. When an emcee can share his life... and a fan can relate on a personal level... that is where a die-hard fan base is earned.

On the downside, and believe me there is few related to this album, I have to admit it is somewhat different from his debut album 'Shades of Grey'. Some may suggest that the production is more underground than his first and that there is less presence in the mixes. While others may contest that the Chorus's are more simplistic and choppy on beats like 'End of the World' than most expect to hear. Nevertheless, I believe its money well spent to pick up this album today and add it to your collection. The album is an excellent progression in Braille's career as an emcee and yet another solid release from him. Box of Rhymes is worthy of your ear play with plenty of selections for heavy iPod playlist rotation.

For fans of: Light Headed, Ohmega Watts, Sivion, Surreal, The Procussions, Little Brother.

4.5 of 5 stars
source: Sphereofhiphop.com, added: Mar 09, 2007
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