The Four Owls - Natural Order (Review)

The Four Owls - Natural Order (Review)

"Natural Order" is the second album from UK hip-hop group The Four Owls (consisting of emcees Fliptrix, Leaf Dog, Verb T and BVA). The album features guest appearances from Smellington Piff, Dirty Dike and Jam Bazter as well as production from DJ Premier, but mostly every track is produced by Leaf Dog himself. It is set to be released on February 12, 2015 via High Focus Records.


1) Rice Torture - The first song on the album finds The Four Owls kicking some boastful rhymes over an instrumental full of organs, boom-bap drums and a guitar that comes in a bit at the beginning and in between the verses. The beat is pretty dope, but the rhymes on here are better than the production for me. Not a bad way to start off the album, but there are better songs on here in my opinion. - 3.5/5

2) Silent Fight - Like this one. Leaf Dog comes through with a real dope instrumental on this cut, chopping up a vocal sample and a sprinkle of piano keys and then looping them up over head-nodding drums. The beat on this track bangs and all four emcees rip it with their verses, kicking some more boastful rhymes while keeping fully with the "owl" theme of the song. This one is fire. - 4.5/5



3) Feels Great - Fliptrix, Leaf Dog, Verb T and BVA rap about loving life and about coming together again as a group over another crazy Leaf Dog production. As on the previous song, the beat has me nodding my head like crazy and the rhymes are dope. Another very good song. - 4.5/5

4) Think Twice - This song is produced by the legendary DJ Premier and it doesn't disappoint. The beat is signature Primo and The Four Owls sound great over it, spitting some more braggadocios bars while Premier cuts up classic verses on the chorus. It's crazy to think that this is the first time DJ Premier has collaborated with any European emcees, so hopefully this is a sign of more good things to come in the future. - 4.5/5



5) Pay The Price - Leaf Dog returns to production duties on this cut and delivers an instrumental centered around a murky vocal loop, dusty drums and a prominent bass riff. The beat isn't quite as good as the last three songs, but it's not bad by any means. As far as the rhymes go, The Four Owls come correct and rap about how every decision you make in life has a price that comes along with it. While this song is dope, it gets overshadowed by the past few bangers for me. - 3.75/5

6) Defiant - The Four Owls rap about refusing to lose over a head nodding horn based instrumental. The beat is quite nice and the rhymes are top notch as well. Yeah, I'm feelin' this one. - 4/5

7) Control - This song is a little different sonically than all of the others so far, with Leaf Dog abandoning the more upbeat, almost playful vibe of the previous songs for a more somber tone. The change is nice though and makes this track standout in the overall scope of the album. As for the rhymes, The Four Owls also switch up the mostly braggadocios bars for more personal rhymes about their lives and about their struggles trying to keep it together mentally. Dope shit. - 4.25/5

8) The Four Elements - The Four Owls return to the boastful rhymes on this track, but take it a step further and incorporate the four elements into each of their verses. I'm feelin' the clever spin on their usual battle raps and the cloudy production provides a nice backdrop for their rhymes. - 3.75/5

9) Dawn Of A New Day (featuring Smellington Piff) - This song finds The Four Owls linking up with Smellington Piff over a hazy horn-based instrumental. The production is nice and the rhymes are as well, with each emcee rhyming about how the rap game is changing and about how they are at the forefront of that change. - 3.5/5

10) Assassination (featuring Dirty Dike) - The Four Owls and High Focus Records labelmate Dirty Dike collaborate on this cut that finds all five emcees kicking some battle raps while using war/combat metaphors and imagery in their rhymes. As usual, the rhymes are dope and the production will keep you nodding your head. - 3.5/5

11) Ain't Like It - This song finds Leaf Dog, BVA, Verb T and Fliptrix reminiscing over a chopped up vocal loop, some organs and a hard hitting snare drum. I've never been a huge fan of organs in hip-hop instrumentals, but it works pretty well on here and the vocal loop and subject matter of the song help me to get over the organs. - 3.5/5

12) The Drama - Leaf Dog comes through with a unique sound on this joint, blending the sound of distorted waves into his instrumental. The beat is pretty good and the rhymes are as well, with The Four Owls rhyming about how sometimes you just have to ignore all of the drama and just do whats best for you. Eh, this one isn't quite as good as the others for me though. - 3/5

13) Open Book (featuring Jam Baxter) - The Four Owls and Jam Baxter spit some boastful rhymes about their mic skills while keeping with the songs theme of books/novels in each of their verses. I'm digging the way that each emcee is staying focused on the topic of each song, which is a rarity nowadays with all the emailed-in and cut-and-paste verses of most projects. Dope. - 3.5/5

14) Judgement - The production on this track is also really nice, with Leaf Dog delivering an instrumental full of beautiful violins/strings and pianos over head nodding drums. Lyrically the song is just as dope, with Fliptrix, Leaf Dog, Verb T and BVA all rapping about how you should worry about yourself and not judge others. - 4/5

15) Old Earth - The beat on this song is probably the most mellow on the entire album, with Leaf Dog chopping up a soulful vocal sample and looping it up over plodding boom-bap drums. The production is crazy though and everyone on here rips it, dedicating the track to their deceased loved ones while spitting some personal rhymes about death. This track is one of the albums standout songs for me. - 4.5/5

16) Motivation - The final song on the album finds The Four Owls rapping about the things that motivate them to succeed over a laid-back Leaf Dog production. The beat has a relaxed, sort of smokey vibe going on and everyone rips it (as usual). Dope way to close out the album. - 4.25/5

I'm going to rate the album

4 / 5

because it's quite good. This is my first time hearing The Four Owls come together as a group (having never heard their first album "Nature's Greatest Mystery") and I must admit that I am impressed. All four of these guys are really on point lyrically and definitely made me a fan over the course of this album. While I am familiar with some of the solo work of the various members of the group, its pretty dope to hear them feed off of each others energy as well as hear how each emcee approaches the theme of each individual song. Luckily the production on the album is just as strong as the rhymes, with Leaf Dog delivering a ton of instrumentals that kept my head nodding the entire time. To top it off, the group got to hop on a track from none other than the legendary DJ Premier himself, who very rarely disappoints with his instrumentals. Overall, the album is really dope and is going to stay in rotation for quite a while. Now it's time for me to check out "Nature's Greatest Mystery".


4 comments:

  1. It is not the first time DJ Premier has made tracks for European MCs! He has worked with Soulkast from France and Prop Dylan from Sweden!

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    1. Oh really? I'll have to check those out. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. No problem :-) Primo has also worked with German rapper Bushido and several other European artists, actually he and Guru produced tracks for swedish singer/rapper Neneh Cherry in 1992.

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    1. I have no idea how I missed any of these. Thanks again!

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