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"Substantial - Sacrifice"

Hailing from the home of the Terrapins (that’s Maryland, for those of you who are geographically challenged), Substantial is here to bring the fun back to hip hop. It’s rare to see any emcees coming out of the Old Line state these days, let alone from Prince George’s County; nevertheless, Substantial is one PG emcee you’ll be glad you looked up.

Sacrifice kicks it off with “Let It Go,” in which Substantial’s lyrics showcase the desperation of the daily grind: “‘Life is what you make it’ is the motto I follow/Hard to slow your roll when you been livin’ full throttle/Tryin’ to make my dreams manifest with this is hard though/Feel like I’ve got a better chance of hittin’ the lotto/See the blood, sweat and tears stained on my cargos/” Don’t be fooled by the lyrical content, though; the song, like most of this album is very upbeat and enjoyable – a refreshing change in a genre that constantly takes itself far too seriously.

Substantial’s emceeing and lyricism is on full display as he coasts through “That Damn Good” and “Chain Reaction” in a seemingly effortless fashion. “My Favorite Things” takes a twist on the old show tune and turns it into one of the more clever dedications to Hip Hop. “4dozdatdonkno” is the album’s only glaring misstep, as it contains less charisma than any of the other tracks on Sacrifice, and doesn’t really seem to belong. This small departure is quickly forgotten, however, as things pick right back up with It’s You (I Think)/Go Wait (Interlude), and don’t stop until the album closes out.

I cannot stress enough how great the production is on this album. Now, I know it’s difficult to think of anything that isn’t littered with club bangers as having good production, but follow me for just a second, folks. From the second you press play until the moment the album ends, Sacrifice treats you to a wide range of sounds that’ll take you outside of your head for a spell. The jazzy sounds found on “Let It Go” and “U Can Get It/This Instrument,” coupled with the more soulful “That Damn Good” and “It’s You (I Think)/Go Wait” are the sort of tracks you could vibe to on a long drive. There’s even some good old-fashioned funk on “Resurrection of the House Party” that’d be a welcome addition to any playlist as a house party.

The whole idea of sacrifice is that it’s much like most other things in this life – it’s what you make of it. It could be the sacrifices you make whilst in the pursuit of the almighty dollar; it could be the sacrifices you make to pursue your dreams; for Substantial, sacrifice is the things he has given up for the pursuit of his musical craft. Like he rhymes on the bonus track “Sacrifice” (which features DJ Kool Herc), “Nothin’ in life come easy, ‘cept God-given talent/When these hard times got a brother feelin’ violent/I think ‘bout the sacrifices made/To help me reach the point that I’m standing at today” The result of those sacrifices is an album that will surely not be a disappointment to anyone smart enough to cop it. -

"Substantial "Sacrifice""

On the fourth track off his new album Sacrifice, Prince George County bred MC Substantial takes a sec to quote the backbone of broadcast journalism, Edward R. Murrow:

"This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends." Based on the new album's content, it's pretty clear that Substantial more than understands that.

After blowing up overseas, in Japan of all places, with his debut album ...To This Union..., Substantial has returned seven years later, backed by Indie Label QN5, with a guaranteed indie classic that'll keep your head nodding from the opening track "Introduction", to the trailing moments of the final track, "Hood Hope".

The record is an aural experience that takes you from the gritty "4dozdatdonkno", to the Jazz inspired "QT (Quality Time)", through the Spanish, flamenco-driven guitar featured on "Labor Pains", and all the way to the undeniably catchy club jam "Resurrection of The House Party". With such a diverse repertoire of sound, it would seem impossible for the album to have any consistent flow, but somehow Substantial manages to make the tracks not only work together, but thrive.

It's not only the production that's, well, substantial, but the rhymes and flows of the MC himself. He blazes from track to track with only a few missteps, notably on "4dozdatdonkno" and "Spaticus (Spit 4 Spat)", which sound a bit out of place on an album with such a positive vibe. He more than makes up for the slight slip with standout tracks "Hood Hope", "QT (Quality Time)", and the track responding to criticism of hip-hop, "My Favorite Things". Special guests are few and far between, which give Substantial more than enough time to unleash his lyrical fury. When guests are featured, they're from the QN5 family, and don't detract from the songs in any way. In fact, the track "Sign Language", featuring Tonedeff and PackFM, is made even better, making it reminiscent of some of the best hip-hop storytelling by Slick Rick. The track is in no way exploitative, like R. Kelly's "Trapped in The Closet - Part 1 - 4145829345", but rather, deals with real, relevant issues.

With that in mind, it's also nice to see another MC take note of real problems, and talk about them. From the desperation of hood life described in "Hood Hope", to the struggle of a modern working class family illustrated in "Labor Pains", Substantial doesn't look past the challenges we face and simply rap about "chains and ho's"", but uses his musical forum to educate and inspire the listener.

So, you definitely ought to check this album out; don't steal it, but buy and support an artist who's trying to make an impact. - Mike Rodriguez -

"Substantial "My Favorite Things""

When an American hip-hop artist claims that he or she is "big in Japan", 99 times out of 100 no one in the Land of the Rising Sun has ever even heard of 'em. Substantial, on the other hand, can make this claim and not have to watch his nose grow. This Maryland-based MC gets mad love from the East, near and far, rocking sold-out shows in Japan and selling more copies than some mainstream artists. Sacrifice is Substantial's second full-length studio album, dropping this winter. “My Favorite Things” is a don't miss track, with pure auditory bliss for anyone who has ever wanted Julie Andrews to finally get the props she deserves in the world of hip hop. - URB Magazine



* 2001: To This Union A Sun Was Born
* 2002: Happy F**k You Songs (with PackFM, Session, Tonedeff known together as Extended Famm)
* 2003: Substantial Evidence
* 2006: Sacrificial Lambs (The Prequel to Sacrifice)
* 2006: Substantial Collaborations Vol. 1
* 2008: Sacrifice
* 2008: QN5 RMX Vol. 4
* 2009: Substantial/Burns (with Burns)
* 2009: Substantial vs. Samurai Champloo

* 2000: “Lyrical Terrorists” (with L Universe)
* 2000: “Home Sweet Home”
* 2000: "Remembering Dave"
* 2001: "KalitWutchaWon2"
* 2002: "If I Was Your Mic"
* 2004: "CIM"
* 2007: "Move 4 Me" (with ChewFu Phat)
* 2007: "At the Club" (with ChewFu Phat)
* 2007: “Resurrection of the House Party”
* 2008: “It's You (I Think)"
* 2009: “My Favorite Things”
* 2009: "Destination Sky" (with DJ Deckstream)

* 2007: “Resurrection of the House Party/That Damn Good (Remix)”
* 2008: “It's You (I Think)"
* 2009: “My Favorite Things”

* 2000: Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme



When Substantial was recording his debut album, …To This Union a Sun Was Born, he was driven by adversity. The Maryland native was struggling to balance school with a budding music career, was homeless at times and still reeling from having buried more than ten friends and family members.

The resulting album - produced by Nujabes and Monorisick of Hyde Out Productions and released in October, 2001 - earned Substantial international critical acclaim and a particularly devoted following in Japan, where it was recorded and distributed. …To This Union was a top ten seller for two months at Virgin Megastores in Tokyo, Japan, and outsold artists such as Ja Rule, Jermaine Dupri, Faith Evans and Angie Stone in November. The album was dedicated to his late father and niece.

In the years that followed, Substantial - real name Stan B. Robinson - released a slew of singles and featured appearances, choosing to remain an independent artist to maintain creative freedom. In March of 2007, however, he officially joined the like-minded roster of independent hip-hop record label QN5 Music, whose artists are both close friends and frequent collaborators of his.

“I met Substantial through PackFM and Mecca during the final throes of the NYC underground scene’s heyday,� says QN5 founder and artist Tonedeff. “They were all in a group together called Dominion and I had seen them. Immediately, I was blown away by his wordplay and delivery.� Tonedeff, Substantial, PackFM and Session would go on to form the group Extended Famm and release the critically acclaimed 2002 album Happy F*ck You Songs.

On January 8, 2007, the man The Source Magazine called “a lyrical problem� will release Sacrifice, the long-anticipated follow-up to - and first official American offering since - …To This Union A Sun Was Born.

Despite being bred from much the same place as …To This Union, Sacrifice is decidedly more optimistic. Comprising sixteen tracks of smart lyricism and breezy beats, the disc evokes the dwindling sense of fun that once permeated the culture and plays seamlessly as a collective nod to the genuine feel-good hip-hop of yesteryear. Perhaps best characterizing this is “Resurrection of the House Party,� the album’s energetic first single, released in September 2007 with an accompanying video, or “My Favorite Things,� an ode to hip-hop culture which Substantial calls one of his favorite songs on the album. Sacrifice features production by Kno (CunninLynguists), Tonedeff, Algorythm & Burns and a guest appearance by QN5 labelmates Extended Famm.

“The album is made of everything that makes me me: Six years of writing, mixing, soul-searching, love, hate, strife, life and death,� says Substantial. “I found myself while making this album, which surprised me, considering how much I lost.�

The cover art - photographed by fellow Maryland native Eddie Tombs IV - is a tribute to martial arts, which Substantial has practiced for years.

“We thought that mimicking a samurai performing Seppuku with a microphone would be a powerful statement,� says Substantial. “I honestly couldn’t think of any better way to illustrate Sacrifice than with this image. As artists, we often push ourselves to the edge and beyond in pursuit of our dreams, often sacrificing for our family, friends and fans. It’s a difficult journey.�

Contact Info: Stan Robinson at or
Phone: 347.385.7052
Publishing Information: Substantial/Stan Robinson for Unlimited Vinyl (ASCAP)

For business inquiries from Japan and Japan related matters, please contact Tsunetake Ito for Tamashie Creations Corp.