Published Jul 29, 2014Joy, pain, lust, debauchery, sage advice about growth and success, and a bucketful of lyrical backhands to stuck-up Instagram angels are just a few of the principles up for discussion as MC/producers Has-Lo and Castle take a somewhat philosophical approach to their latest collaborative effort. On Live Like You're Dead, the pair's unshakable humour and, at times, deceptively lackadaisical delivery bely the sharpness of each rapper's surprisingly free-flowing wordplay. The two slide coolly from the smack talk of cuts like "D.L.S." and "Famished" to the words of wisdom aimed at their teenage selves heard on "My Uncle" before pausing on "Good Feelings" to ponder such curiosities as the proper term for post-noon "morning wood."
Chunky, midtempo soul breaks with the odd digital excursion thicken up the record's feel rather nicely, shining brightly on the determined stomp of "Big Ol' Ass" and on the RZA-influenced "Stubborn Vice" as Has-Lo and Castle swap not only verses but production duties with style and finesse. With one drunken freestyle as its lone skippable moment, Live Like You're Dead keeps things tight throughout, and offers plenty of hefty cuts worth coming back to. (Mello Music Group)