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The Future Is Now
(Uncle Howie Records)

These are paranoid times. That's what this period in history will always be remembered for: paranoia, fear, destruction. Should we make it through this whole "new reality" intact, we will undoubtedly look back at how everything seemed to change literally overnight. The most nervous of science fiction writers now look like veritable prophets in this age of microscopic cameras and worldwide terrorism.

The Future Is Now, the latest from Brooklyn outfit Non-Phixion, appears to be the right album at the right time for the world's sour mood. Non-Phixion want to get plenty of issues out in the open, and they don't live in a world where the solutions come easy. Emcees Ill Bill, Sabac Red, and Goretex lay down lyrically complex rhymes and the mood is unrelenting. You won't listen to this release and say: "Yo, but here's the dance track." That's something else that you're talking about because the most lighthearted part of this album is "Uncle Howie", where… more or less… a guy spends a minute describing his favorite crack whore. What do you really want from an album with titles like "Drug Music", "Black Helicopters", and "Cult Leader"? Tales of the ghetto, tales of Big Brother looking at everything you do and when you do it… that's at the center of The Future Is Now. The messages at work here are delivered with force and conviction.

For an album so sure of itself, though, The Future Is Now is a little uninspired. Whether it's the rhyming or the composition, nothing on this album is particularly memorable. Maybe it's the way that DJ Eclipse keeps the musical frame of mind too low to the ground for the entirety. The production work isn't weak, really, but it doesn't take many chances nor does it make any attempt to make a name for itself. It's not until "Strange Universe" (co-starring MF Doom) that I feel drawn to anything here; the song's a bit different and interesting, but not by much. That's deep into the proceedings and is also not an example as the most we get at the end is an ill-advised remix of "The C.I.A. Is Trying To Kill Me" featuring a gnawing hard rock backup.

To be honest, we have a collection of artists who have the tools to make a stunning effort, but have come up short. There are some shows of brilliance on this album; "Where You Wanna Go" is a strong track, but it only serves to point out what could've been. The rest tends to fall under the simple "back and forth, verse and chorus" rap structure. Not exactly the way to get across thoughtful subject matter, and for The Future Is Now to completely succeed as an album it would need a more thoughtful approach.

---Maurice Downes

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