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"By Example: Best of 2006 - Top 25 Indie CDs"


A photo of a mother bottle-feeding a baby in a 70s-era apartment becomes the first introduction to Repeat Offenders debut By Example, and from that moment forward, hip-hop has a new face. The image, reminiscent of Esther Rolle as the matriarch of poverty-stricken Cabrini-Green, is engrained on our subconscious, and at the same time this sounds like the hip-hop soundtrack to Good Times that never was. Loaded with positive vibes and lyrics that don't require a Parental Advisory label, Repeat Offenders make throwback music for throwback folks.

With interludes that create images of inner city America struggling to get ahead on deep pile shag carpet and Fat Albert cartoons, there are certainly comparisons to The Roots and Talib Kweli to be made, but the fact remains this is clearly separate and original. Tracks like "Building" fall back on Cooley High and Friday night life on the stoop, pouring some on the curb.

Where Kanye West spends $20,000 on a jacket for the Grammys and pouts when he doesn't win, Repeat Offenders aren't in it for the glory, just the message. The RO weren't weaned in private schools and they make no bones about it. There's no glory in winning here, it comes with playing the game.

"Smooth Talker" has a bass line that's as groovy as Digable Planets' "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)" and found its way into my iPod quicker than a Sugarhill Gang bootleg. "Be Strong" features a sample of Jerry Butler's "Only the Strong Survive" that sends this one through the stratosphere. There's no reason why this track should go unnoticed.

"Rain Trickles Down" and "I Believe" are strong in context and self-exploration that are only found in the earliest tracks of Boogie Down Productions. What highlights this album the most is what it doesn't have: sexist, tacky intermissions that permeate commercial releases. No need. Respect creates glory. Something Mystikal and Ludacris apparently don't understand.

DIY hip-hop may just be making its mark, but Repeat Offenders are well on the way to becoming innovators of a still completely unformed genre and possibly becoming forefathers of a new breed of music-making.

-Derek Blackmon


"Repeat Offenders ~ Throwback Soul"

I had to listen to Throwback Soul, the new rap CD by Repeat Offenders, several times because I just couldn’t grasp that the CD is devoid of lyrics about ‘ho’s, crack, sex, violence ... well you get the idea. Let’s be honest – when you hear the heavy beats of rap you just expect to hear lyrics centered on those themes.

But don’t think that Repeat Offenders’ latest offering is some watered down (read boring) elevator type music your great, great grandpappy would enjoy. Throwback Soul has all the finest elements of rap – great beat, cool lyrics, clever, positive word play – without words that prompt many listeners to turn the volume down every time they come to a red light.

The music is engaging but not overwhelming, positive but not preachy, sophisticated but not elitist. Add to that killer rhythm and deeply textured, finely spoken lyrics full of nuances and you have it.

To date, Repeat Offenders is still very much an east coast band with followings in New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and a few more exotic locals such as Peru. It’s tough to believe that they won’t burst onto the national scene soon. In a world where everyone’s looking to copy the success of Lil’ Wayne’s “Lollipop,” this music stands out. - Nancy Dunham


STYLE: Repeat Offenders' current sound features various rhythmic and harmonic textures created by piano, stand-up bass, voice and additional sounds that expand on shuffling minimalist grooves. The result is an ambient hip-hop (that an indie rocker could dig) that focuses mainly on community empowerment.

PRO: I was wrong. In the "Super Lyrical" review, I publicly wondered if Repeat Offenders' approach would be sustainable over the course of a CD. I'm happy to report that it is. To be sure, The Repeat Offenders employ many tactics to keep the listener engaged. Of note are the smooth vocal turns by guest singer Trulala on "Smooth Talker" and "The Meaning of Life" and the chorus vocals on "This Life" and "It's Our Time." Major hell yeahs for kicking off the disc with a totally def double bass riff on "Maya" and later on "Smooth Talker" that takes me back to Digable Planets and my own double bass in my music room. And the sitar sample on "Building" is genius! I'd also like to note that the R.Os eschew the violence, mysogyny, money and drug worship commonly found in the lyrics of their million-dollar contemporaries. Double hell yeah!!

CON: I still can't quite buy some of the synth-generated bass grooves. They sound too DIY and while I can certainly appreciate that, a more discriminating hip-hop listener might be turned off. "Still Here" is a deeply personal open letter but the track is plagued by odd and awkward phrasing and bonified cringe-worthy lines ("Thanks for those ball lessons, they're all I ever got, the only thing you gave me was a decent jump shot") that are an unnecessary sneak peak into a dysfunctional family. With 19 cuts on the disc, it could have easily been saved for the rarities and outtakes disc.

FINAL ASSESSMENT: I don't listen to much hip-hop (maybe this review shows) but maybe it's because I don't hear enough music like this. The Repeat Offenders make a point to rethink hip-hop's overemphasis on the bass end by offering a counterpoint of slight melancholic ambience. Lyrically, the act has grown and I hear rhymthic development in the phrasing as well. "By Example" plays to its strengths -- diverse tones, heartfelt words about hip-hop ("I Believe" will make any aging 7 Seconds fan weepy) and straight-forward, no-nonsense rhyming patterns focused on story-telling -- and by doing so, the disc survives any misfires, which are few. Nice work! the critic speaks:**** (4 out of 5)

--Richard Guerrero
- - November 2005

"Editor's Pick: Repeat Offenders - By Example"

I reviewed their “This Is R.O.” EP about a year or so ago and enjoyed its upswing away from stagnant hip-hop. Repeat Offenders continue to break away from the mold of typical mainstream hip-hop by offering a completely refreshing take on production. The lyrics are just as witty and clever with bouncing rhymes that take charge of each song’s direction. Blending intricate samples with rhythmic beats and hard slashing cuts, “By Example” is a favorable suggestion that the best players in hip-hop aren’t found on BET or MTV.

--J-Sin - - November 2005

"Review of Repeat Offenders – By Example"

A repeat offender is someone who is charged with the same crime more than once, but what about when the crime is being real. In today’s hip hop game, it seems like it’s more of a crime for an MC to speak from the heart, than to rap about the crimes he committed. By Example is earnest compilation of tracks inspired by real world experiences, lyrical dexterity and passion.

The majority of mic time is held down by R O front man S.L. AKA super lyrical underground giant, or S.L.U.G. Other production and vocals are provided by Thrillmatic and Hip Hop. Early on, SL shows his unique style on “I Found Her” and “Smooth Talker” by making tracks inspired by love without one mention of skeeting, phat asses, or “tossin dollas.” The lovely vocals of Miss Trulala accompany “Smooth Talker” and “The Meaning of Life.” SL is at his best though when he is speaking on inspirational topics backed by authentic situations, or just destroying the facades that are prevalent in the game. “Street Sweeper” is a direct showcase of raw talent and disgust for what’s going on in the game. The true gem of this album can be found on “I Believe,” filled with poignant passionate rhymes that will definitely captivate the soul.

Versatility is also shown throughout this disk. “Bounce To This” is a quick display of SL kicking it with a fast bounce flow. Breaking it down with the ability to tell a story relating to what he envisions everyday, SL informs you to put your “Windows Down” and listen to the sound of the street. “Jamaica Jawn” is a light hearted almost party type of good day track to break up the seriousness of other cuts.

The main slight in this project is in the production, the majority of beats are average at best, but some are mediocre. Sometimes it a piano that’s out of place (“Rain Trickles Down”), weird tracking of sounds (“Messages”), or just overall unimpressive phasing of tones (“This Life”). SL is strong mc with a charismatic approach, who doesn’t stray too far away from his strong points. Besides a few haphazard lines here and there, he is totally capable of being captain of his crew. The moments when SL isn’t doing his thing on the mic can be skipped, but that’s far and few between.

Repeat Offenders is hoping that with the release of By Example, they can show how it should be done, instead of just talking about it. Using creativity and pride to craft a track instead of glorifying gun toting, womanizing, and drug dealing is clearly absent from the majority of artist nowadays, especially those hoping to move some units. R.O. is here now, and as stated on “Building” featuring Jadox, they’re “coming thru your hood like tanks thru ice sculptures.” You should definitely pick up By Example, and give it some rotations as an alternative to the inundation of bullshit that’s prevalent out there. There’s no doubt, Repeat Offenders has done it again.

-Master of Self -


"ON PURPOSE" - released May 2009. The long-awaited follow-up to By Example...featuing Windchill of Artists Over Industry, Jay Myers, and Jadox The Black Spider. Includes the tracks "Runnin'", "Experts" and "Work In Progress".

"BY EXAMPLE" - released August 2005. This album features the singles "Street Sweeper," "I Found Her," and "Still Here." Both "Street Sweeper" and "I Found Her", as well as "Smooth Talker" have received airplay on Indie Artist Radio, Fearless Radio in Chicago, and numerous podcasts all over the world. named "By Example" one of the Top 25 Indie CDs of 2006.

"THE EXTENDED FAMILY MIXTAPE" - released July 2006. Featuring "Babygirl", "Torn", "Playing With Fire", and many others.

"THROWBACK SOUL" (EP) - released March 2008. Entirely produced by Sean Carter of South Hill Productions. Featuring guest appearances by Poetris, Jay Myers, and Flowing Skills.



To carve their own niche in the world of urban music, the members of Repeat Offenders pride themselves on humility and their ability to captivate audiences with their “throwback” style of hip hop. These artists feel a deep obligation to the community, and to music in general, to avoid the overused song content of misogyny, violence, wealth, and drug use. Instead, on a quest to change the hip-hop landscape, Repeat Offenders’ emotional lyrics and performances attempt to expand this musical genre and address personal and social struggles that they and members of their community face.

The history of this group traces back to the Pennsylvania dormitories of Millersville University during the fall of 1993. The love for, and knowledge of, many musical genres brought Shawn Jacks (aka S.L.U.G.) and Matthew Kolb (aka Thrill) together, and they formed an instant bond. Soon after their introduction, Shawn introduced Matthew to Chris Hammond (aka Hip Hop), and the seeds had been planted. Over the next few years, Shawn began molding his own lyrical style, Matthew expanded his dj’ing to Millersville University’s radio station, and Chris’ produced his own, original pounding hip hop instrumentals to form the group’s compelling first album, Lyrical Incarceration. Repeat Offenders then produced and directed the video for the album’s first single, “Slugfest.” Although their first collaborative effort, the album Lyrical Incarceration, lacked the financial backing and airplay push of a major label record, it laid the foundation for the realness that was to come.

Their follow-up, By Example, was critically acclaimed and cemented their impact on the current state of hip-hop. An exemplary, cohesive collection of tracks all aimed at uplifting and espousing the everyday person, their second album also took a more personal tone and offered audiences and listeners a closer look at these artists and their daily lives. Centered on family, chock full of pensive, heartfelt lyrics as well as aggressive and undeniably powerful tracks, By Example is Repeat Offenders’ statement of accountability in hip hop. The release of this album saw Repeat Offenders creating quite a local buzz; but it was their live performances that earned them respect and appreciation amongst their peers. To date, Repeat Offenders has reached out to audiences in Costa Rica, Haiti, and Peru and rocked live shows in states like PA, NJ, CT, NY, and MA, including an award-winning performance at the Rock Solid Pressure Showcase in Danbury, CT. The first single from By Example, “I Found Her,” was featured on the Feoh Records’ 2004 compilation, Summer Dying Fast, while other Repeat Offender tracks, like “Bounce To This” were included in the independent film project, Mary/Jane. The success of By Example culminated with it being named and honored as one of the Top 25 independent releases of 2006 (

Most recently, they’ve blazed New York City stages like Mr. R’s What’s Hot Radio Showcase and lent their musical blessings to weddings, house parties, and Sweet 16 engagements. They’ve connected with the tremendously talented live quartet, The Big Dirty (, and together these two entities take shows from individual performances to united celebrations of music. In addition to releasing the Extended Family Mixtape, they’ve also shined on other ventures like the Lyrical Skills Project and South Hill Productions’ Soul Sessions Volume 1. As these PA hip hop overachievers continue to hone their direction and refine their writing skills, listeners can rest assured that the aptly titled On Purpose, their new album that is in production, is on the way and will be just as potent.