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Time Capsule
Universal Soul
Whut Boy Records
Ranking 4/5

The biggest hip-hop group coming out of Halifax that you've probably never heard is hands down, Universal Soul. The collective of DJ/producer Jorun with emcees Fiz, Voodoo and Tacktishion have fashioned themselves a nice niche within their Haligonian habitat. Their more than 50 years combined experience in the rap game, without major accolades, would see most submit to retirement. Instead, they've stayed true to their hearts and in so doing, have managed to fashion themselves one of the biggest hip-hop buzzes Halifax has ever seen.

The release of Universal Soul's debut album, 'Time Capsule,' stands to be the turning point in their career. The album's 12 songs are a product of hard work and dedication, having been written anywhere from 1 to 10 years ago, hence the name 'Time Capsule.' Despite 10 years of aging, their songs show no rust, proving this hip-hop quartet's ability to create a timeless sound indicative of their experience and knowledge. In fact, it's a sound reminiscent of all that's great about hip-hop - a fun atmosphere, positive/encouraging messages, tight beats, and skilled flow.

Universal Soul start off strong with the funky 'Laughin @ Ya,' whose message and sound had me seeing visions of Robin Hood. 'Way Back in the Day' has a fresh summertime feel stirring up BBQ and picnic visions. Watch for this track to blow up as Universal Soul recently received a VideoFACT grant for it. The catchy 'Searching for the Funk' had me seeing clear visions of the O'Jays classic 'For the Love of Money.' 'Don't Stop the Rock' demonstrates yet another amazing beat at the hands of DJ Jorun. 'Secret' provides a simple beat melded perfectly with the female chorus and hushed vocals. 'Mind at Ease' is a boastful upbeat and energetic display of all three emcee's lyricism. On 'Bring the Funk 2 U' Tacktishion delivers a sound reminiscent of Camp Lo's 'Black Nostaljack'

As much as I enjoyed 'Time Capsule,' I found myself searching for an extra dimension to take it from a great album to amazing. The missing element(s) may have been the group's potential struggle to capture the potency of their live show or it could be my craving for a new sound pushing the boundaries of hip-hop. Instead, I found myself stuck in time, repeatedly listening to 'Time Capsule,' and slowly falling in love with the classic fun hip-hop sound so few rap groups are nowadays able to capture.

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This review was written June 5, 2003
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