Styles of Beyond are like those out of control kids in your neighborhood that kick trash cans over, light fireworks at midnight and tag buildings and signs with spray paint just for kicks. Nothing they do is inherently violent because they are actually decent kids but they like to wield a mask of “I don’t give a shit” when they are together. Be honest with yourself, we have all been or wanted to be those kids at one time or another – and Megadef is their soundtrack. Musically, what this sounds like is tight-aimed verbal aggression spit over hectic wrecking ball beats. This is exactly what Styles of Beyond gave listeners with their sophomore album.
Just like the aforementioned random acts of mischief, Cheapshot and Skully, the groups two DJ’s, cooked up a bevy of hectic, brutal, rock-riddled instrumentals for Ryu and Tak, the MC’s, to machine gun spray with words of caution. Though their lyrical attributions aren’t particularly diverse, they are ripe with energy and linguistic technicalities. Syllables align word to word and bar to bar forming and maintaining a steady head-nodding rhythm. They are definitely skilled rhymers. Consistently referencing the speed and level at which they can spit. From self-declared “freaks of nature” to being the definition of sick, humbleness is wrought by narcissism.
Luckily, their claims are hard to dispute. Partly because their claims sit somewhere between metaphorical assault and murder, but mostly because they are backed by some of the most powerful deliveries of any two MC’s ever. The voices are abrasive enough to sit disguised on a shelf next to 26 grit sandpaper which only helps to add weight to the fist that is this album. The biggest hits though, are owed to the overly medicated instrumentals that incorporate everything from, a The Stooges sample from 1969 to a Bob Marley sampled, ‘Mr. Brown’. The latter of the two an incredibly innocent sounding original; then Styles threw some hard percussive hits on it and turned it into a banger with a dash of age-old soul.
The album isn’t revolutionary and the style isn’t from too far beyond, but it’s definitely high quality music that begs to be heard. Anytime this level of aggression is backed by an equal amount of skill and know-how, there’s something worth listening to. Don’t come in looking for a mapped-out history of the centralization of urban violence in L.A., but rather, listen to the passion and creativity that can stem from such an environment, especially in a time not long after or an area far from the L.A. riots of the early 90’s and prepare to get amped up.