Koncept (of Brown Bag AllStars) – Playing Life EP

Smart, personal lyrics, sharp cuts and smooth tracks make Koncept’s Playing Life album an enjoyable listening experience, adding to the positive reputation of the Brown Bag AllStars collective, of which he is a member. Production is handled by group members as well as outsiders, including The Audible Doctor, marink, J57, maticulous, DJ Brace and DJ Dyllemma.

Koncept - Playing Life album cover artWhile it dropped a while ago, I had it hovering in my backlog, and since BBAS members generally put out solid material, I definitely wanted to get more acquainted with Koncept as a soloist. The 9-track digital download is free, while a $10 purchase gets you some bonus cuts. There are a few notable standouts on this collection, for instance, the beats on title track “Playing Life” and “Old Man Winters,” the chorus cuts on “Keeping On,” flow in “Know It Alls” and overall vibe of “The Preview.”

For whatever reasons, “You Knew,” (featuring Sene), didn’t hold my attention for too long, neither did “First Time,” (featuring J57), despite the creative sampling and on-theme lyrics. “Romeo & Juliet” was flipped nicely on “Old Man Winters” and the concept was clever, thus it’s the type of song indicitive of Koncept’s overall vibe, a bit of ‘needs-replay-to-fully-understand-what-he’s-saying’ going on, over generally strong sampled-boom-bap tracks. In previewing the leaked “You Knew” before the project dropped, Blake Gillespie of ImposeMagazine.com says, “Brown Bag All-Stars aren’t the pinnacle of 90’s retrofit hip hop, but they aren’t screwing it up either,” and I generally agree, with Koncept’s Playing Life fitting under that same generalized umbrella. Underground heads and ’90s hip hop fans will likely welcome a project like this, though since many of these listeners are simultaneously fans of more intense lyricism, Koncept may not be able to hold multi-playback attention with Playing Life.

Not that Koncept leaves too large  a void. He has the voice and delivery of a passionate MC and thoughtful lyricist. While his flow is far removed from a punchline-heavy style, Koncept seems more interested in getting his point across, with an injection of intellect to keep in line with the, well, the concept of each song. This gives folks who can think farther ahead than the current two bars something worthwhile to listen to, while the strong production choices gives the neck a nice workout along the way.

Download/Listen: Koncept (of Brown Bag AllStars) – Playing Life EP

Playing Life (from Playing Life)