Lone Catalysts
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Lone Catalysts

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If this album was called great music it would be a lie, wack music also isn’t remotely close, but like the middle bowl of porridge Good Music is jussssst right.

The Lone Catalysts are J. Rawls and J Sands, no fake alter egos, no gimmicks, no flashy cars and rims just two guys with a love for hip hop. Good Music is there second long player and it has been a journey in the true sense of the word, started around 2002 and seeing them traverse the US by car to record the required guest appearances. A lot of the artists soul and petrol money has gone into Good Music with the end result being funnily enough an album of good music.

Production wise Lone Catalysts stick pretty closely to the soul/jazz/blues tip, sampling, as with most hip hop plays a big part but it is complimented here by a good array of instrumentation to create a solid if a little safe soundscape. That doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, there is a definite element of groove and soul here that warrants the listeners attention, it’s just when it goes a little flat you are left thinking you have heard it all before.

On the

lyrical tip the emcee’s are a long way from gangsta, this is proper conscious underground hip hop stories, street tales from the past, songs about ladies and tributes to those that have passed combine into a tight package. Again my only gripe is the content has mainly been done before, it’s still tight, still listenable but lacking the originality or flair that could turn Good Music to great. A number of guest emcee’s and vocalists are along for the ride and provide the albums highlights, firstly on 100 Bar Dash which is exactly that, El Da Sensei, Mr Complex, Wordsworth, Lil Sci, Thes One & PA Flex go line for line for 100 bars without a chorus in sight, it is a dope track. Other standouts include Taboo featuring Masta Ace (didn’t he retire), Bad Music featuring Mix Master Ice on the cuts, L.I.F.E, as well as the Lone Catalysts only tracks Ones We Miss and The Ultimate.

All in all Good Music is a good album, Lone Catalysts are clearly hip-hop purists and their sound isn’t going to change anytime soon. Perhaps lacking the flare to appeal to a wide audience it will appeal to underground heads and I’m sure that is exactly the way they want it.
- ITM Music Reviews


Lone Catalysts' "Hip Hop" album was one of the most profound hip-hop experiences I had in 2001. In fact in the Year 2001 wrap up, I put this album at #5. Four years later the album still holds up to the perfect 10's that I gave out across the board. J. Rawls beats put him in an echelon worthy of comparison to any musical maestro worldwide, while J. Sands conversational relaxed rhyme style was some of the best rap to come out of the underground in the last five years. Therefore I am embarassed to admit that in the interim the duo released an album called "The Catalysts Files" that completed slipped my notice, and their latest CD "Good Music" almost slipped under my radar too. Fortunately I didn't make the same mistake twice, and even though we're almost out of time for this year, I've still got the chance to make it right for the Dynamic J Duo and dish out the dirt on their new disc.

The first thing that's obvious from peeping "Good Music" is that they've gone all out on grabbing guests to join in the fun. If you follow underground hip-hop you'll instantly recognize a lot of the names: Mr. Complex, El Da Sensai, Wordsworth, Lil Sci, Thes One, Masta Ace, Grap Luva, Asheru, and so on. The second thing that's obvious about the album is that the team has once again decided to give the people their money's worth - 71 minutes of material spread out over 19 tracks with no skits or interludes. Even the "Intro" is some funky music - just a half minute's worth - and doesn't stop things from flowing quickly into the up-tempo and ominous "Brothers Keeper":

"The most amazin! Most infamous
Like the mob - no prob' pimpin this
Magic Don Juan style, stones on my glass
filled with Henny, glowin 'dro and hash
Makin good music; no more, no less than
I'm not a king, or the jest' and
pro-black artist with the throwback hardest
Regardless of being chartless, we take the people farthest
Lone Catalysts, that is the foundation
That puts fear in all these clown stations
Thinkin that you know what's urban culture?
You just commercial vultures - hoverin over the virgin's altar
Blood-suckin, love nothin"

While this reads like your typical anti-pop rap rant, it's the way the verbals flow and eerie screaming backdrop that make it more as it builds up to climactic odes to unity like "cause man we're past _Ready to Die_, we need life" and interjected samples from cult classic film "New Jack City" make the picture complete. This theme is continued on the follow-up "Ones We Miss," opening with a Biz Markie beatbox and the words "Jam Master Jay, you'll never be gone, through your cut and scratch, you rock rock on." WORD. When Sands and Rawls named their first album "Hip Hop" it wasn't just to impress the backpacker elites - it was something that they would eat and breathe like bread and oxygen. Not only does it sustain and nourish them, it inspires them to give just as much as what they get right back. Take a stroll with Sands "En La Ciudad" to see just what I mean:

"Miss Conchita, yeah she was sweeter than my biggest heater
Caramel tan sexual features but I wouldn't eat her
The two-seater livin vida loca Rita with the chocha
Shorty skin turned la rosa as I pulled the mami closer, look
I had a partner and his name was Juan
Showed me everything 'bout women cause his game was Don
Dimepieces all day man they came and gone
Homey told their friends how they want me to flame 'em on
Mack chicas magnifiqua Dominican señoritas
Sayin 'AY PAPI!' We lovin it when you freak us
I knew a kid and he owed me pesos
If he wasn't gonna pay me back, why did he say so
Seen him at the bar frontin, buyin up cervazas
So I walked up to him and I had a razor
Buck fifth him, grabbed his chips and ducked with 'em
Must be loco en la cabeza thinkin I would slip him"

Sands and Rawls are serious about their craft. They don't just come up with meaningless song titles and try to fit them into the chorus, they craft a concept and make a track that fits into it. The up tempo latin beat by J. Rawls, the smooth way J. Sands slips back and forth between ingles and español, and the storytelling narrative where he goes from macking mamacitas to getting his money all fit better than a glove around O.J. Simpson's hand. When you think you've heard the smoothest or flyest thing they can do on "Good Music," they always come one better. I could play "Once Before" featuring Jonell over and over again in the headphones all day - it's some of the most therapeutic boom bap jazz money can buy. "La La La La" then goes right over the top with horns even Pete Rock would be jealous of, and Donte from Mood comes in perfectly on the guest rap with "I'ma tell you the facts/if the label bought your soul, man you sellin it back/they gon' put it in the streets and resell it as crack." The simple drumline, lightly floating melody and drumline of "Afta Da Jawn" is so understated and serene you'd think ?uestlove produced it - Rawls even uses his trademark gimmick - Rap Reviews


Discography

The Beginning EP - BUKA - August 98
Hip Hop Independents Day: The Sequel - Mixed by DJ Spinna – Nervous Records – November 98
The Paper Chase 12-inch – BUKA – November 98
Due Process 12-inch featuring Talib Kweli and Rubix – BUKA – March 1999
J Sands “Won’t Stop” 12-inch – BUKA – July 1999
Politix 12-inch – BUKA – July 1999
Dynomite 12-inch featuring J-Live – Groove Attack/Supperrappin’ – August 1999
ShowTime featuring Lone Catalysts “Rush Hour” 12-inch – Rent Money Recordings – October 1999
3582 12-inch – Bad Magic – January 2000
Heavy Loungin Compilation “Renaissance” featuring All Natural – Fat City Records – January 2000
Open Transport: Video Documentary – Staticopy – February 2000
Mission Control Presents: - Mission Control Records – July 2000
J Rawls “Check the Clock” featuring Grap Luva – Groove Attack/Supperrappin – September 2000
Place to Be 12-inch – BUKA – January 2001
J Rawls “Great Live Caper” featuring J-Live - Groove Attack/Supperrappin – February 2001
Lone Catalysts ALBUM “Hip Hop” – BUKA - March 2001
J Rawls Album “The Essence Of…” – Groove Attack/Supperrappin – May 2001
On Course 12-inch – Rawkus/BUKA – June 2001
Biz Markie/Lone Catalysts “Monumental” 12-inch - Groove Attack/Supperrappin – September 2001
J Rawls “They Can’t See Me” 12 inch featuring Wordsworth - Groove Attack/Supperrappin – September 2001
Superrappin Compilation Vol 2. – Superrappin/Groove Attack – October 2001
3582 “Living Soul” Album – HumDrums – October 2001
Bringing It Home, Vol. 1 - BUKA – November 2001
If Hip Hop Was A Crime (Remix) 12 inch featuring Rashad, BI, and PA Flex - BUKA – January 2002
The Catalysts Files CD - BUKA – January 2002
Destiny 12 inch featuring the 3rd and Venus Malone – BUKA – July 2002
J Sands “Manifest” – BUKA October 2002
J. Rawls “History’s Greatest Battles, Topics, and Campaigns” Female Fun – August 2003
3582 Hum Drums October 2003
J. Sands “The Breaks Vol. 1” BUKA November 2003
En La Ciudad 12-inch – BUKA August 2004
J. Sands “Southern Lady” 12 – UP Above August 2005
LA,LA,LA,LA 12-inch – BUKA October 2005
Good Music LP – BUKA November 2005

Photos

Bio


The LONE CATALYSTS, consisting of emcee J Sands & producer J Rawls, have taken on the world. The group has been together since the mid-90's and have formed a cohesiveness that shows in the music they create. The first release from the Lone Catalysts, The Beginning EP, was released in August of 1998. The Beginning EP contained a six-song menu starting off with the title track "The Beginning". The EP also consisted of the "Paper Chase", "Lone Catalysts"(short version), "Heirs", "Thin as Paper" and "New recruits". Distributed mainly in the Midwest, The Beginning EP was an excellent promotional tool and used to introduce the Cats to people.

The second project for the group was a J Rawls production gem on the "Mos Def & Kweli are Black Star." Rawls contributed production on "Brown Skin Lady" and "Yo, Yeah" which placed him among the new hottest producers in the rap music genre. The "Mos Def & Kweli are Black Star" did very well in the independent hip hop market and was acclaimed as one of the best albums in 1998.

Very soon after the release of "Mos Def & Kweli are Black Star", the Lone Catalysts strike again. This time on the Nervous records compilation "HIP HOP INDEPENDENTS DAY VOL. II", with their self-titled song “LONE CATALYSTS”. This compilation was released in November 1998 and featured many of the new artists in the hip hop underground, and also gave the Lone Catalysts their first worldwide release.

Just when you thought the year was done, J Sands and J Rawls started B.U.K.A. Entertainment and released their first independent single, "Paper Chase" b/w "Heirs." Even though they were newcomers to the independent record business, they sold over 3000 units in a two-month period through only word of mouth.

In the spring 1999 they took hip hop by storm with their second release from their label, B.U.K.A. Entertainment, entitled "Due Process" featuring Talib Kweli (from Black Star and Reflection Eternal) & Rubix b/w "Let it Soak" featuring Dante (from MOOD) and Holmskillit. The single brought accolades to the Cats by placing #1 on the major college record charts such as Gavin, CMJ, and Insomniac. The sought after 12-inch is considered a classic, selling well over 12,000 copies to date.

The group has dropped numerous 12 inches including “Politix” b/w “Two’s Company” and the critically acclaimed J Sands solo 12-inch “Won’t Stop” b/w “Wanna Battle”. The group also kept their momentum going with the Groove Attack backed 12 inch “Dynomite” b/w “So Clear” featuring J-Live. The group released “The Place to Be” b/w “3 Years go” in preparation for an album. They also kept their name on the scene with several collaborations including All Natural, ShowTime and 3582.

With increased demand for an album, the duo obliged in the spring of 2001 with their critically acclaimed album aptly titled “Hip Hop”. The album has been given excellent reviews and mentions in top magazines such as XXL, Source, Vibe, Murder Dog, and Urb and has sold over 12,000 copies in the first 7 months. Keeping busy, in the summer of 2001, the Cats also released a new 12 inch in conjunction with Rawkus Distribution entitled “On Course” b/w “Won’t Stop Remix” featuring J-Live and Grap Luva. The newest offering from the group is the lead single from the Supperrappin 2 compilation featuring the Lone Catalysts “Monumental” on the B-side of a Biz Markie 12-inch.

Subsequently, the group has also stayed busy with a solo album from J Rawls featuring acts from all over the country including Mass Influence, Wordsworth (of Punch & Words), and Five Deez. The Lone Catalysts also have done work on the new Unspoken Heard album, “Soon Come” and El Da Sensai album “Relax, Relate, Release”. Currently, the group is supporting the album, performing shows around the world. They are also readying new material from J. Sands, “The Breaks Vol. 1”. They released a compilation from their label B.U.K.A. Entertainment earlier in 2002, “Bringin’ It Home, Vol. 1” and “The Catalysts Files”; which features all the 12 inches the pair released that were never pressed on CD, as well as some new joints that were never released. Now, the duo is preparing for their sophomore LP, “Good Music” to drop sometime in 2003. It will be an expression of all good music, not just in the realms of Hip Hop. As quoted from J. Sands “We did ‘Hip Hop’ on our first album to show we can do that, now we want to focus on just doing some ‘Good Music’ which can be any genre.” Lone Catalysts are definitely cutting edge and the best part is this is only the start of things to come.