Solillaquists of Sound - As If We Existed (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Solillaquists of Sound

As If We Existed (2006)


I've never subscribed to the ideology that underground hip-hop was better than mainstream hip-hop only on the merits that it's underground. Both classifications have a lot to offer stylistically, and in range and number of rappers, so anybody that blocks out underground hip-hop or mainstream hip-hip because it is such doesn't deserve to listen to either.

Those people are not getting the message.

Solillaquists of Sound? They're getting the message.

One of the most diverse and engaging hip-hop acts I've heard in quite some time, Orlando's finest display impressive proficiency in production, instrumentation, rapping, and singing. Each of the group's four members has their own distinct style; each of the group's four members has amazing contributions to make over the course of the album. As If We Existed is the best of many worlds -- unique, soulful, lyrically impressive, and most importantly, the raps are on point.

The four-piece is at their best on "Ask Me If I Care," an almost six-minute song that sees SOS mixing incredible verses with gorgeous female vocals, violin, and a terrific amalgamation of a crisp beat and piano work. MC Swamburger comes hard, fast, and often with his introspective musings, and no matter how confident he comes across, he's never one to stray from talking about his own weaknesses.

No more unexpected routes to turn down while alone and following your dream / To resurrect a pulse right into the seams, of its struggle / To be accepted as worthy cause without clause -- clout and all.
The slow and wrenching combination of piano and violin that carries the song out gives plenty of time to think about just what was said, and that's a victory already, because right after it ends that just means it's time to listen again, to take in everything missed the first time. The funky "Berlin" follows in that thought-provoking context, with Swamburger rapping straight bars without a hook for close to three minutes, the crunch of electric guitar riffs not too far in the background. Alexandrah takes over halfway through to add an interesting vocal and lyrical perspective to what was an already standout track, and on an album full of them, "Berlin" and "Ur Turn" shine above most.

With Swamburger and Alexandrah bringing their contrasting styles to the background mix of an sublime electronic beat and the sounds of a church choir in the background, each word in the song hits that much harder. Swamburger, not one to stray from opinion, is very vocal about the current state of the education system ("My every reply against your sin like violence and mis-education / False representation that's costing a nation of children lost in fallacy gaps / Fantasy maps without a path and teachers that just don't know the math). Swamburger and Alexandrah have plenty of other barbs throughout the course of the track, but the underlying message is to take a more critical look at things that are important. Obviously that's different for everyone, but so long as there's something that matters, there's something worth looking at through a more critical lens.

A philosopher by the name of Betrand Russell once penned something that sums up the social views of SOS and the way people should look at hip-hop just the same:
It is healthy in all affairs to hang a question mark on things long taken for granted.