"Hologramz" is a collaborative album between Epidemic's Hex One and Las Vegas based hip-hop producer 5th Element. The album features guest appearances from Tek-nition, Ruste Juxx, Planet Asia, Prince Po, Reks, Reef The Lost Cauze and others and is fully produced by 5th Element himself. It was released on December 22, 2014 via Mic Theory Records.
1) Common Sense - The first song on the album finds Hex One going off over a sort of mystic instrumental by 5th Element, with some flutes or other woodwinds looped up over boom-bap drums. The movie samples and subtle strings in the background give the song a cinematic quality and Hex One sounds right at home over it while spitting some boastful rhymes in a tongue-twisting flow. Very dope way to start off the album. - 4.5/5
2) Deep Cover ’14 - Hex One and 5th Element pay tribute to the legendary Big Pun by updating his "Twinz (Deep Cover '98)" track (which itself is remake of Dr. Dre and Snoops "Deep Cover") and the end result is pretty dope. The beat is much more lighthearted than the originals and Hex One sounds nice enough over it while (according to the video writeup) "using not only the same rhyme scheme but also the same rhymes but with completely different words". This cut is very impressive lyrically, but the production is not quite as strong as the previous track. Still, very nice. - 4/5
3) Dinner Time (featuring Ruste Juxx and Halfcut) - 5th Element takes a step back from the energetic feel of the previous song and instead delivers a mellow instrumental centered around a soft harp or guitar and a prominent vocal loop. The beat has a laid-back, but darker, feel than the other songs so far and all three emcees sound great over it while rhyming about still being hungry in the rap game. - 3.75/5
4) Fire (featuring Tek-nition and Planet Asia) - Hex One links up with the other half of Epidemic and West Coast vet Planet Asia over a sort of ominous instrumental. The beat is dope though, with what sounds like distorted guitars over boom-bap drums and sort of somber horns that come in during the hook. Lyrically the song is just as good as the production, with all three rappers filling their boastful rhymes full of references to fire and heat. I'm really feelin' this one. - 4.25/5
5) A-alikes (featuring Tek-nition) - This song finds Epidemic kicking some socially conscious rhymes over a lively guitar-based instrumental with the occasional vocal sample coming in every once in a while. I'm diggin' the carefree feel of the production and the rhymes are dope as well. - 4/5
6) Potential (Interlude) - Skit.
7) Shine (featuring Blacastan and Halfcut) - The beat on this cut has a real melancholy vibe to it and is centered around some soft piano keys and swirling strings that reach a crescendo during the hook. Lyrically the song is a little depressing as well, with all three emcees rapping about how they need to forget about complacency/hopelessness and instead look at the positives in life. - 4/5
8) Greed (featuring Dreamtek, Tek-nition and Pete Flux) - Epidemic team up with Dreamtek and Pete Flux (neither of whom I'm very familiar with) over another guitar heavy 5th Element production. The beat is nice and all of the featured emcees sound good enough over it while rhyming about people who have become "puppets to the greed". - 3.5/5
9) Speeding (featuring Prince Po and Awon) - Hex One, Awon (who just dropped a crazy album a few weeks back) and the legendary Prince Po rhyme about the "roads of life" over yet another string-based instrumental. The beat is real dope, with some violins and reverberating strings over head nodding drums, and all three emcees rip it. I'm really feelin' this one. - 4.25/5
10) The Sequel (featuring Reef The Lost Cauze and Tek-nition) - 5th Element changes things up a bit and comes with a more mellow instrumental featuring some resonant falling keys, laid-back drums and a hard snare. The beat is real nice though and Hex One, Reef and Tek-nition all sound good enough over it while kicking some boastful battle raps. - 4/5
11) Rare Form (featuring Reks, MindsOne, Ty-One and Tek-nition) - The final song on the album is also the longest posse cut on here, with both members of Epidemic, Reks, KON Sci and Tronic (from MindsOne) and Ty-One (whom I'm not really all that familiar with) all spitting bars over another darker instrumental. The production is real nice and everyone on here rips it while just straight spitting over the beat. Dope way to close out the project. - 4/5
I'm going to rate the album
4 / 5
because its really good. This is the third project that Hex one dropped in 2014, following up his stellar "String Theory" album with BBZ Darney as well as his "The Soulution EP" as a part of Epidemic. I don't know how an emcee with rhymes as intricate and complex as Hex can pump out so much material in a single year, but all of the music has been real dope so I'm definitely not complaining. As for the rhymes on this project, they are just as dope as usual, with Hex One ripping every beat and coming with dense, multisyllabic rhyme schemes on every song. Luckily the production featured on the project compliments the thought-provoking rhymes very nicely, with 5th Element sticking mostly to darker instrumentals over head nodding drums. While I feel that the production is not quite as good as the production on "String Theory", it's still really ill in its own right and definitely helps to give the project its own unique identity. My only complaint about the album is that it's kind of short, with only ten full tracks clocking in at just over forty minutes that left me wanting more. I guess that's just me living up to the people that Hex and company rhymed about on track eight though. Oh well. Definitely make sure to check out the album.