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At A Glance
Don't adjust your speakers. That is the legendary riff to Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" wailing on a tenor saxophone underneath the spitfire rhymes of Napoleon Maddox that you're hearing. And the old man getting the led out on the horn who looks one part Henry Threadgill and one part Grady Wilson is Jack Walker--a little known avant jazz sage from Lincoln Heights (a section of Cincinnati best known as the original stomping ground of the Isley Brothers). Together the unlikely pairing form ISWHAT?!, one of the most groundbreaking hip-hop groups to emerge from the Midwest in recent memory. Busting out of Cincinnati with their 2004 debut, You Figure It Out, on HYENA Records, Maddox and Walker's music was greeted by declarations like: "ISWHAT?! are going to rescue hip-hop. The trio are part of a movement that is promising to bring originality back to underground beats." (STYLUS) and "They're all about what's happenin' that a lot of people ain't even hip to yet." (Rahzel/The Roots). On August 29, 2006, ISWHAT?! attempts to match the level of such lofty praise with their highly-anticipated follow-up, The Life We Chose. While the core of ISWHAT?!'s sound is based on Maddox's human beatbox rhythms and Walker's sharp, incendiary horn lines, this time around they build upon their ideas with help from a vast cadre of friends and special guests, including Hamid Drake, Piakhan, Animal Crackers, Claire Daily, Ming & FS, Roy Campbell Jr., Fatal Prose, Lewis "Flip" Barnes and Daniela Castro among others.
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