interview E-KNOC - The Promise Land | Review By: Lord Funk

Release Date : August 2007
Label : Dubcnn Distribution
Rating: 3.5/5


Dub Quotable: E-Knoc is a confident MC with lyrics, flow and charisma, and this album gives him plenty of opportunities to showcase all three."

If variety is indeed the spice of life, California native E-Knoc serves up a dish with quite a kick in the form of 'The Promise Land', his new DubCNN-approved album.

Lyrically, E-Knoc runs the gamut from rowdy to reflective. On 'Respect It' he warns foes that "over a low amount of cash I can murk you / head back home, smoke a blunt, write a flow about it", then takes time on 'Mind Games' to muse "I trust the Lord, but I wonder if he trusts me?" To his credit, he always sounds convincing, whether discussing street life or more spiritual topics.

Despite a few borrowed lines from Biggie and Jay-Z, E-Knoc's heart is firmly in the West. 'How I Became Me' is an engaging tribute to growing up and surviving in and around LA, with the rapper describing his younger years and cleverly alternating these recollections with memories of the music he listened to at the time. And on 'LA's Brightest', he goes back and forth with guest O Beast to shout out various hoods over a vintage G-funk track.

Most of the beats are provided by St Eyes, who handles production on 11 of the 15 songs. Like E-Knoc, he sets out to touch many bases musically, whether it's the NWA-like hectic drums of 'Royal Fam' or the soulful, sped-up vocals and sweeping strings on 'Mind Games'. And like his partner in rhyme, St Eyes does an admirable job no matter what style he leans towards.

But with a laidback, understated flow, E-Knoc's rhymes are best suited to laidback, understated beats. The sparse, spacey synths of the opening 'I Be' and the stripped-down hyphy of 'Certified Hustler' prove the perfect sonic backdrops for his calmly delivered brags and boasts.

Likewise, the quiet storm groove on 'Street Lights' makes his description of rolling through the LA night "bumping Thelonius Monk" sounds like the coolest pastime imaginable. The rapper's flow seems drowned out when the production turns to more aggressive beats, such as the growling bass and organ stabs found on 'Bang'.

'The Promise Land' isn't perfect, but there are so many highlights here that it's easy to forgive the amateurish R&B chorus on 'Do You Mind' or the cheesy, New Edition-sampling 'Cool It Down'. E-Knoc is a confident MC with lyrics, flow and charisma, and this album gives him plenty of opportunities to showcase all three.

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