Perhaps the most impressive aspect of The Art of OneMind, the soulful hip-hop collaboration realized by New Jersey beatmaker Illmind and Dallas' own Symbolyc One, is that despite flip-flopping production duties and using more than 30 vocalists, the project has a unified sonic approach that sounds as though it sprang from one brilliant mind. The two producers are at the fore here, and their skills are on prominent display. The UK's BBE label, with its history of releasing quality producer-oriented projects from the likes of Pete Rock and Jay-Dee, is the perfect home for Illmind and S1's loping beats laced with soulful strings, pulsing Rhodes and cosmic synthy wig-outs. The roster of rappers ranges from platinum-selling icons (the Wu's Ghostface Killah) to national indie high-risers (Little Brother, the Procussions) to some of Texas' finest (Free Agents, Bavu Blakes and S1's own Strange Fruit Project). While the majority of the tracks are infused with warm soul and chilly jazz, some of the CD's best results occur when the sound branches out to the more ominous mood of "Milk 'Em" (fueled by the gritty deliveries of Ghostface, Trife and Myone) or the clubby clap and stomp of "Club Aquarius," in which Tree and Dow Jones ride the beat like veteran crowd controllers. "Been Gone," "Night Like This" and "Blue Notes" have the kind of vintage soul hooks that stay with you, unlike the awkward concoctions that currently pass as R&B. The Art of OneMind is not only one of the most listenable discs of '05, but it also places Illmind and S1 in the thick of the global soul and hip-hop movement.
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