Theory Hazit - Extra Credit
Rapper Theory Hazit is a refreshing find, an artist who revels in positivity, using music as a tool to describe how finding religion helped pull him out of a drug-fuelled downward spiral. With Extra Credit he's crafted an album designed to pay tribute to his faith without falling into the trap of sounding preachy or solemn. The powerful I Just Want To Go Home is a prime example of the fruits of those labours, along with the superb Lessons in Power, which takes a cue from the the gospel-tinged, widescreen production values of Kanye West. It's misleading to insinuate that there's nothing else up for discussion on this record than the man's religion though, as the Napoleon Dynamite-referencing, Scooby Doo theme tune-sampling Dumb Dunces brings to mind MF Doom and Danger Mouse's obsession with off-the-wall US TV channel Adult Swim, showcasing Hazit's playful side and demonstrating that he has a broad array of cultural touchstones to draw upon.
The soulful I.O.U. is another highlight, featuring an impressive cameo from Braille, while Gossip Synopsis's sharp delivery comes close to adding a grittier edge to his sound - though anyone looking for battle rhymes would be better served looking elsewhere, because a cheeky 'go play in the traffic' is about as malicious as Theory's verses get. Elsewhere, Hello Kiddeez is a sugary ode to the rapper's children that just about manages to avoid being overly gooey, while the LP's title track tips its hat to old school beats and pours scorn on the Get Rich or Die Tryin' posturing of gangsta rap.
The likes of Just Another Day and Emit Gninrut verge on the hands-in-the-air anthemic and closer Ghetto proves a final call to arms for the oppressed and downtrodden, providing a satisfying end to an enjoyably uplifting listen. Extra Credit isn't going to break any boundaries or blow any minds but it features a strong enough blend of social conscience, clever wordplay and contagious vibrancy to make it worth a listen.