Since the release of the incredible Foreign Exchange debut album, Connected, transatlantic musical collaborations are no longer unique due to the wonders of the Internet and technology. Even less unique is the introduction of these collaborations via music discussion message boards where unions of this sort take root. A new entry in this form of sonic partnership is the duo of MC/Poet 72 Soul of Belgium and Producer/MC Akello Uchenna (based in North Carolina) to form the group Transcending Project and the release of their solid but often rote debut, Change. Armed with a low-end sampler, 8-track and a PC, Uchenna provides 72 Soul (and himself on just a few tracks) with production that would be best categorized as “downtempo” – however there is a strong element of Hip Hop present. 72 Soul’s poetry tends to waver between relationships, life struggles and even promiscuity.
After a brief intro, the disc leads off with “Expand Contract”, a jazzy head-nodding platter complete with lush guitar samples and dizzying well-placed vocals stabs which allows 72 Soul’s soft spoken poetry of expanding and contracting to lay right into the groove of the track. “Gigolo Soul” is more of the same, but this time piano loops provide the foundation for the track. On both offerings, 72 Soul’s voice is quite understated, which makes sense as none of the tracks are meant to rock the speakers or the club. The best track on the release, “Hot Is Cold”, is more of a straightforward rap verse from 72 Soul and Uchenna again keeps it quite jazzy. This can be seen as both the strength and weakness of the disc. The lack of musical variation and the obvious fact that this was done separate of each other rears its head often on the songs. The songs themselves seamlessly weave into one another but they do not vary quite enough in tone thus rendering the disc into a pattern of sameness.
However, tracks like “So Easy”, “What Path” and the excellent “Voices” round out the disc and are definite standouts. There is a strong emphasis on the vibe and vocal pairing with the music which makes this record perfect for a lounge or coffeehouse setting. However, if this project has releases set in its future, crafting stronger and more layered tracks would hold the attention of the casual fan much more effectively.