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Below Tha Surface – Push Play

The idea that Atlanta is the Black Mecca of the south is somewhat misleading; it is the base for the headquarters of Coca-Cola, after all. However, knowing what we know about Black music and its roots in the ATL. For instance, it is the home to Outkast, Usher, So So Def, Lil’ Jon, Eric Sermon, and many, many more groundbreaking and influential outfits like Dallas Austin and The Goodie Mob. So it seems a little on the odd side to picture Caucasian performers from the area.


Well, The cats from Below Tha Surface (Mala—pronounced May-Lay and Sev-Leven) are here to buck a few stereotypes and make sure you understand that its about the music first and not the man (err, men) behind it.

To be honest, the duo actually hail from the mid-east, but have made Atlanta and its hip-hop scene their home for the past several years, racking up an impressive list of credentials; including an appearance on Showtime at the Apollo, opening up for Lil Jon, Nappy Roots and Bonecrusher, and performances at every club and showcase in the city (and surrounding areas).

From this they have cobbled together their debut CD Push Play.

In their own words, taken from the official website ( they have been “compared to the legendary Beastie Boys crew.” This is due mainly to their penchant for party records and a sophomoric sense of humor displayed throughout the album.

However, especially on the first couple of cuts “Full Frontal Nudity” and “3,2,1” thoughts of Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer come immediately to mind. The Ice comment notwithstanding, because these fellas do have more skill behind the mic, they definitely want you to get your Hammer pants on and take it to the dance floors. There is a sense of movement and energy that doesn’t take a break in this 16 track introduction, ending with the ultimate party starter: “The Party Song.”

The album is produced entirely by member Mala, who touts as his influences The Neptunes, Timbaland, Dre and Premiere. But his sound is nothing like any of theirs, nor is there even a danger of confusion. Though, with cuts like “Southern Belle” (featuring Scales from Nappy Roots), a head nodder with an infectious hook that lauds the women of the South, as well as staples like sweet tea and grits, you can hear the hints of genius that are yet to come. In the meantime, be content with rock guitars (ala early Kid Rock) and synthesized Hip-Hop beats that encompass humorous and exciting lyrics, if not especially deep thinking ones.

Hey, these guys have said it themselves; they are here to bring back the fun to a genre that sometimes seems to take itself too seriously, not to change the world. To this end, they succeed; you get party-oriented music delivered earnestly by two very genuine MC’s. And they will make you laugh, despite of yourself.

Below Tha Surface should probably been seen live to really appreciate the essence of their music, but if you should take a moment to peer beneath the skin, you will find a decent debut from honest and talented musicians who just want you to share a bit of the music that inspired them to create. Go ahead and push play.


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