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Diverse - One A.M.

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Artist: Diverse

Album: One A.M.

Label: Chocolate Industries

Review date: Jun. 8, 2004

As a DJ who plays primarily instrumental hip-hop, I often limit vocals to one or two select tracks during an entire set. Yet, Diverse somehow manages to spit a verse or two almost every time I play out. Whether it be one of his collaborations with Prefuse 73, Caural, or Ghislain Poerier, or one of his 12” singles for Chocolate Industries, this Chicago kid is always lurking somewhere in my record bag.

I’ve been waiting for a full length to drop for a while. Needless to say, when One A.M. arrived, I was a bit anxious. Would the album live up to my ambitious expectations? Too many promising rappers have sparked interest with hot singles, only to surround them with boring self-indulgence on their full-length efforts.

Fortunately for all of us picky underground hip-hop fans out there, Diverse has assembled a debut album of hip-hop classic proportions. Without a gram of filler on the whole thing, One A.M. is worthy of repeated full rotations for years to come. With RJD2, Prefuse 73, and Madlib splitting much of the production credits, the album could stand alone as a who’s who compilation of producers. But it is Diverse’s personality and syncopated rhymeflow that steal the show.

RJD2 sets the stage with a rock banger, over which Diverse boasts his hip-hop credentials and makes it clear that “what we’re dealing with is significantly certified.” On “Ain’t Right,” he demonstrates his storytelling techniques over a Madlib gem. On “Just Biz,” Prefuse keeps the hip-hop straight ahead while Diverse makes it clear that he won’t be selling out any time soon. Lyrics Born lends his signature flow to another RJ banger on “Explosive.” Other tunes on the album such as “Blindman” and “Leaving” show a more deep and introspective side of the rapper. On the final beat, instead of just biting a sample from a Rebel Souls record, Diverse and DJ Lok actually brought the original musicians – drummer Ted Sirota, guitar player Jeff Parker, and cornetist Rob Mazurek – to re-record and extend the concept.

If it takes another three years of hot singles for Diverse to turn out another masterful full-length, you won’t hear me complaining. With the quality control that this kid applies to his music, Diverse should stick around for a long, long time.

By William Mitsakos

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