Review: Encore

““Self Preservation””
(75 Ark Records)

Prince Paul and Dan the Automator’s 1999 Handsome Boy Modeling School collaboration featured big names like Grand Puba, Sadat X, Mike D, and Del the Funkee Homosapien, but San Francisco MC Encore grabbed attention with the sharp track “Waterworld.”  This is Encore’s first solo album, and it finds him delivering intelligent rhymes with the same hard-edged, monotone flow that worked so well on “Waterworld.”  “Self Preservation” proves that Encore is no one-track wonder- he is more than ready for the challenge of a solo album- but the two best tracks on “Self Preservation” feature guests who come close to stealing the show.  On “The Situation,” Pep Love trades verses with Encore and earns points by shouting out Destro from G.I. Joe, and on “E.T.,” Holekost tears it up with a flow reminiscent of the RZA’s on “Triumph.”  On other tracks, especially the dramatic “.084,” however, Encore grabs you by the ear with only the help of his producer The Architect, who backs up Encore’s vocals with a layered sound heavy on piano loops and bouncy organs. “Self Preservation” is not a spectacular first effort, but a very strong one, and promises good things from ‘Core in the future.