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The best kept secret in music


"Groundwork Review"

A visit to this year’s Van’s Warped Tour will lead you to the Code Of The Cutz Stage, the hip-hop section of the tour. If you’re about to check out the tour, pay attention to Arcane. Calling New Jersey home, Malprak, TimmyGrins, and JB, along with DJ JE were definitely raised by the best hip-hop of the 1990’s, as one tends to hear hints of Cypress Hill, Naughty By Nature, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, and Snoop Dogg in their flows and style of production, where the warmth can be felt in the samples and instrumentation that isn’t overdone. Their debut album is called Groundwork (Arcane Music), definitely lays down its title by establishing what they are about in the first song, then allowing fans to explore some of the finer verbal aspects of each rapper. One of my favorite songs is “Friendly Crash Spot”, partly due to the use of a sample by a certain band that I am a huge fan of, and it’s nice to hear someone of a younger generation getting into their catalog. Judging them from the songs alone, I sense that Arcane are about having fun in their music and on stage, WITHOUT being corny. A lot of new artists try to come up with a gimmick that makes them look like complete fools, and sadly a lot of fans take it as the greatest thing since the Flowbee. Arcane are not about gimmicks, just good music and lyrics, which is really all one could (and should) ask for.
- Music for America

"Arcane - Groundwork"

For the last two weeks, I’ve been telling en-L (proprietor of, “Yeah, I’m working on this review, and that review…and I still have to check that other disc, uhh, I forget the name of it.” For some reason, my own myopia had me fading this album before I listened to it. I don’t know why; maybe it has something to do with the corny graffiti logo, or the “promo” look of the CD, but I had already decided that it wasn’t worth my time before I even cracked the case. Well, I am prepared to eat yet another slice of humble pie because I was dead wrong and just stupid to assume anything about this group. Arcane is a good group, and I apologize to them and myself for my preconceived notions.

You like well-crafted battle raps? You like well-placed scratched hooks? You like banging beats? Then you like Arcane, a four-man group hailing from Northern New Jersey featuring Timmy Grins, JB, Malprak, and DJ JE. Production comes from within and from outside this camp, but maintains a relative level of consistency throughout the album that doesn’t make it obvious. This is a good thing, by the way: it’s nice to have “bangers” on an album but it shouldn’t be at the expense of other songs on the album. The only song where the production is suspect on the album is “BiPolaR,” a track about the trials and tribulations of living and trying to make it in the rap game, which is well done but a little sappy and slow, especially on the heels of the first song, “Chasing A.M.I.” which is great.
Let’s try to describe “Chasing A.M.I.” because I think this is a great first song on any album. Production is a light, rolling loop—strictly oboes and tubas here—punctuated by rising trumpet blasts in the hook. Over this are some more-than-capable battle raps courtesy of the crew. Standing out is the decidedly “Joisey” accent of who I believe is “Timmy Grins,” who warns us, “Lay low, you’d better be careful/ You’ll give two shits when I tear you a new asshole.” Hold ya head, Gambino! That’s not the only gem on this track, though, in particular the first emcee’s opening line: “I’m cling-free, no doubt/ I only pop Cris when he runs his mouth…” Word. One of the more moving tracks on the album is “Absence of Motive?” a track which begins with a spoken indictment of the medical research community for creating HIV purposely as an agent for biological war, unfortunately this theme is not obviously explored in the raps. Still, the members offer some uncharacteristically vulnerable lyrics.

There’s more dope music to come, like on “Stoopin’ It” where the members stretch their lyrical legs over a bouncing track produced by JB, about chilling on the stoop in the Summer: “Life’s a bitch and it’ll eat you up if you allow it/ So I step to the steps, catch a breath, expect better things to come/ If the weather brings the sun, I’m outside ‘til it sets.” Fitting that this album dropped the day after the first day of Summer this year. I’d be remiss to not mention “Bush” which isn’t about the current President: “We all know what they’re called on males/ But on girls, they’re definitely not called ‘happy trails…’” I love the scratched sample of Queen Latifah from Juice: “…totally sloppy!” The album is full of clever references like that, like the sample from Sublime’s “What I Got” in “Stoopin’ It.” Overall, the music is really well-produced and impressive on this lp.

Sometimes, the crew falls into maudlin ruminations, and sometimes the music tends to fade into the background rather than shaking you awake—but there’s plenty of “awakening” music and overall, the album maintains at a high level. Don’t be like me and pass this one by because of some stupid preconceptions, check Arcane out. Cop the album, then check out and build with these talented individuals.

- Reggie of Vinyl Connect

"Arcane is under the ground with 'Groundwork'"

Arcane is under the ground with 'Groundwork'
By Pablo Paz

Independent and underground hip-hop has produced several names, that I wouldn't say are household, but are well known, such as Atmosphere, Aesop
Rock and Del the Funky Homosapien. But what do you get when you reach a little bit further beneath the surface?

Looking hard enough one might come across the Independent group Arcane. The have a surprisingly professional sound on their debut album, Groundwork,
which in my ears draws comparisons to the CunninLynguists, Eminem, and
Atmosphere's Slug.

The group has a rare sense of awareness and humor, a combination not found often in mainstream artists. The awareness is shown first on the track "BiPolar", which has a catchy hook ending with the piercing line, "I wanna live 'till the day I die." You see the same type of awareness on the track
"Absence of Motive?", which brings up the tough subject of HIV/AIDS... in a hip-hop song. 'Nuff said.

Their humor is unmistakable on the track, "Bush". I'm going to leave that one for you to hear on your own, it's just "totally sloppy".

Groundwork provides you with several good tracks that rival any other good cuts in all of hip-hop. "Got Me" and the hidden track following "Lace 'Em Up" are definitely some of the highest points on this album. Also, the
track "For Fathers That Bothered" has production and flow fir for just about anybody, no joke.

Another intoxicating tune, "Stooping It", is an ode to a good time, a track we can all enjoy in the car or at the crib.

Let me give you a little background on the group. They have rocked shows with the likes of Method Man, M.O.P., Slick Rick, Digital Underground and
Pharoahe Monch, as well as making appearances in two consecutive Vans Warped Tours. Needless to say, they aren't quite as underground as one might think.

This group's sound revolves around their DJ, the amazingly talented DJ JE, and their production, the majority of which is credited to group member JB.
Together Arcane creates great music that never really gets old.

Arcane takes this album seriously, for the most, and overall there are no real weak spots on the album. If these guys sound like your type by any chance, then give them a listen, I am willing to to be you will find their music enjoyable.

On a flow scale of 5, Groundwork recieves a 4; cop it.

Groundwork is available locally at FYE and on the group's website,

- Pablo Paz-Santa Fe New Mexican


12" Single "BiPoLaR" released November 2003, achieved as high as #9 Insomniac National Chart
12" Single "For Fathers That Bothered" released January 2004, achieved as high as #19 Insomniac National Chart
LP "Groundwork" released July 2004


Feeling a bit camera shy


Arcane is an independent hip-hop group hailing from Northwest, New Jersey made up of three M.C’s, TimmyGrins, Malprak, JB and DJ JE of Baltimore, MD. Arcane has already made their brand in hip-hop. In the three years they have been together they have rocked nearly 200 shows.

Arcane has graced stages throughout North America. They have appeared in national and international magazines and newspapers including Insomniac Magazine, Chronic, Grind-Mode, Fly, Belles in Monica, Hip-Hop Game, The Baltimore Sun, the Baltimore City Paper and The New Jersey Herald to name a few.

Arcane’s two released singles “BiPolar” and “For Fathers that Bothered” have merited high ranks on national independent hip-hop charts. This summer Arcane released their first full-length LP “Groundwork.”