Actual Proof's Still Hotter Than July | Record Review | Indy Week

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Actual Proof's Still Hotter Than July

(Jamla Records)

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"Callin' Me" is the second single from Still Hotter Than July, the latest project from North Carolina hip-hop duo Actual Proof. It not only features up-and-coming Austin crooner Bluu Suede and Durham rapper Median, but also what may be the most accessible rap possible from these emcees. Another one of Soul Council producer E.Jones' bassed-out beats, the song's arguably the first single to come out of 9th Wonder's Jamla Records camp ready for mainstream urban radio play.

Don't be surprised if our own WQOK-FM, 97.5 doesn't get the memo; everything else on this album is strictly for the the Act Proof followers who grin when either member—Sundown or Enigma—nails a difficult rhyme-run or hits a fancy punch line. Sure, there's some fun to be had, like on "No Doubt," where "big booty chicks," "fly-kicks" and "Fonzarelli leans" come aplenty. But the lyrical tone takes serious turns in places like "Take It Back" and "Paradise," where both emcees display a newly found sense of rhyme efficiency. On previous projects, the two wasted a lot of bars mousing around with self-congratulatory mediocrity. On Still Hotter, Enigma and Sundown find themselves trying something larger—less spring-and-snap action and more knockout, bare-knuckle boxing. They share the effort on all three of the AMP-produced tracks, "Words," "Represent" and "Nice As I Am." On that last number, AMP's "DJ Premier fetish" beats force the two to jump in the octagon and rap for their lives.

But too often these fellas still sound like they're making songs without an audience or even a competitor in mind. The 9th Wonder-produced "Get It Done" is a perfect example of this—it's an apt arena for two fighters who only prefer to stand in the ring and shadowbox. We all know they can rap, and they both know they can rap. But can they fight? And can they win? We need more proof.

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