“Classic” is without a shadow of a doubt the most overused word in the message board era. Any record that has even a little bit about it is acclaimed a stone cold classic or GOAT within five seconds of hitting the net. Yet I’ve got absolutely no hesitation in dubbing For The Record a classic album.
Because everything about Torae’s (official) debut LP screams old school quality, from the needle hitting the wax on the cover to the production credits that read like a who’s who of boom bap: Pete Rock, DJ Premier, 9th Wonder, Large Professor, Diamond D, plus the next generation represented by Marco Polo, Illmind and others. If you close your eyes, you’ll be able to imagine what most of For The Record sounds like: heavy drums and soulful samples that are made to get necks snapping and fists pumping in the air. Primo does his thing on “For The Record”, Pete Rock turns in a classic on “That Raw” while 9th’s work on “Shakedown” is a master class in simplicity. A special mention should also go to Illmind’s “What It Sound Like,” a grimy number that hits particularly hard.
Torae himself is blessed with a warm flow which he switches up to deliver sharp verbal jabs (for the record, he’s “not for the fuckery”) and slows down to show his sensitive side (on the yes, classic, slow jam “Over You”). He’s so old school that he reserves as much of his ire for that new-fangled Twitter thing as his rivals: “You can send shots with hash tags, I’ma send my shots back with the pistol.” That’s Torae in a nutshell – representing the traditions of hip hop’s golden age (even the name of his own record label is a shout out to Pharoahe Monch) but fresh with it too.
If it all sounds familiar, well, it doesn’t make it any less effective. For the Record is the sound of a sharp MC rhyming over some dope beats from some of the best producers in the scene. If that doesn’t make it a classic record, I don’t know what is.
– Will Georgi