The Starting 5ive (Album Review)
By Michael Stover For ‘The Boom Bap Review’ series I’ve tried not to write about EPs because that adds sooo many records to an already impossible list to go through. Enter The Starting 5ive. In an era where Hip-hop groups are a rarity, The Starting 5ive brings The Good People (Emskee & Saint), Carta P, Horror City & Quentin Gilmore together under one project. Seven tracks deep with all seven instrumentals included with a team of veteran artists is just what was needed and enough for me to break my own rule when it comes to writing about EPs of the current year. This album from front to back is perfect: not a single line wasted and not a single wack beat. Let’s talk about The Starting 5ive’s debut self-titled EP. The Starting 5ive’s project wears its experience and motives on its sleeve all the way down to the cover art. From the new Knicks inspired logo, it should be no surprise that when “Wutitis” comes on with the saxophone and the hard drums you’re immediately whisked to New York where this sound holds true. Something about the album feels familiar, but this quintet of artists combines perfectly to provide a quick-hitting album that evokes emotion and most importantly evokes some version of hope. The cherry on top of everything is the consistency in The Starting 5ive’s execution. The group dynamic shines through on every track, members of the group providing background vocals, bouncing off each other’s verses smoothly like they’ve been on the court together for decades.
“Imadoit” was the track that turned me onto the album and to me it really encompasses the feel and essence of the entire album. The track stars Horror City and Carta P over a beat that whisks you back to the days when they were coming up in New York. I don’t believe I’ve stressed enough in this review that these guys lived, rapped, and produced through the Golden Era of Hip-Hop. This is an exercise in the climate and foundation they helped to create. This is lite work for The Starting 5ive. The last track on the project, “What You Really Heard,” closes the project perfectly and on a high. The end of the album sneaks up on you honestly. By the time you’re acquainted with the group, the EP is done and you’re begging for more. The Starting 5ive EP captures the essence of Hip-hop in a way I didn’t know I needed this year. I also want to stress that this 6-track EP pulled me into covering them for this book. I miss albums that had a natural progression or structure to it with the first track introducing the listener to the group. Then in the middle you’d have some battle rap tracks mixed with some more serious music and closing out with an outro you’ll never forget before you run the whole album back again. Saint’s production combined with the chemistry of a group lacking ego but taking pride in their group dynamic and artistry gives us a short project we’ll be talking about 10 years from now. The cherry on top is that they included instrumentals, allowing you to appreciate the work and soundscape Saint created for this project. I don’t know what the future of this group holds but I pray we get a full-length album from The Starting 5ive in 2021. They’ve clearly got the talent and dedication to win a championship.