Normally the best place to start in a story is at the beginning, but for every rule there’s an exception and this is one of those cases. The Cali based group U-N-I boldly titled their debut album A Love Supreme, which immediately (and maybe unfairly) connects them with John Coltrane’s masterwork of the same name. On the end of the feverish title track, Y-O breaks it down as something you’re willing to die and or give your life to or conversely not give your life for. So with that said, the last man standing is the music. Backed by the lush soundbeds of producer Ro Blvd., Thurzday and Y-O wax poetic on everything they consider to be A Love Supreme: mainly music, women, & gear.
Based on their wardrobe alone, it’d be easy to dismiss Y-O & Thurzday as any other hipster group where style trumps substance. However, both have simple deliveries that can mask their lyrical deftness unless close attention is given. On “My Life,” the duo lays out their intentions for their musical affinity as Thurzday spits “My momma told me/I could be a president/but I think more like a terrorist/words strapped to my chest at all times/any given moment I explode in rhyme.” Ro Blvd. sets the mood with a mellow walking bass line, along with flourishes of piano & saxophone to accent it. Songs like “The Grudge,” “Stylin,” & “Voltron” find them defending their position as they feel forced to compete with other artists they believe aren’t genuine in how they present their selves.
For most part the vibes remains upbeat as warms synths and upbeat drums keep things moving at a brisk pace. However, they do briefly delve into a darker sound on “Pulp Fiction Part 1.” Assisted by FaShawn, the trio gets their John Singleton on as they depict a pair entering the dope game. The back and forth between them is flawless, as they spin a convincing tale, although it serves more as an intermission for the lighter fare such as “Hollywood Hiatus.” Over a clever flip of New Edition’s “Cool It Now,” the duo takes a break from flexing their lyrical prowess to enjoy the fruits of their spoils: models and groupies.
Missteps are few and far between on this album, as “Hammertime” suffers as much from poor sequencing as the hook. Both “Calendar Girls” and “Lauren London” are interchangeable as they are essentially the same song and placed concurrently. A “Pulp Fiction Part 2” would’ve been nice addition to add more from a creativity standpoint, but it’s not detrimental. The album ends on a grandiose three song arc, as both the tempo and melody slow down considerably allowing the two to reflect on life as they know it. Conventional song structure is thrown out the window on “Black Sky,” “Halftime,” & “Love Supreme” as they let the music dictate the vibe as singing, rapping, and extended bridges are the norm.
When the curtain calls, this album succeeds because Ro Blvd. provides a set of dynamic backdrops for Y-O & Thurzday to spit over, allowing them to capture that time period between anonymity and stardom. That place when the sting of the struggle is still prevalent and the shine of the bright lights hasn’t yet lost its luster.
Download — U-N-I & Ro Blvd. – A Love Supreme