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Approach returns with the diverse Aloe Park

Approach has been a leader in the Kansas City/Lawrence hip-hop scene for over a decade now, despite living in San Francisco for short while. His best songs are the light-hearted, funkier ones, and his latest album, Aloe Park, has some of those. However, the strength of this album might be in its diversity of sounds and styles, largely thanks in part to all the collaborations.

Released on local label Datura Records, many of the album's collaborators, such as DJ Sku, Miles Bonny, and Royce Diamond, are all labelmates. DJ Sku gives more of a club feel to "Honeywell," which rivals many of the pop hits on mainstream radio. The song "Ivory Julian," featuring Miles Bonny on trumpet, infuses jazz into hip-hop. Royce Diamond, who has rather impressive sound on his own, helps infuse soul into the track "Where U From."

Approach seems to channel Jay-Z at times on this record, especially when he begins to boast, as so many MCs do. However, his lyrics are generally more insightful and intelligent.

The most refreshingly original track on the album, "Watermark," actually melds neo-soul with funk, and is also probably the best produced track on the album.

What's great about Approach is that you cannot pigeonhole his sound, and that sound has constantly evolved throughout his many records. Aloe Park is another great example of a hip-hop record that keeps you guessing, unlike most of the predictable, formulaic albums found in the mainstream. It is currently available at, Love Garden Sounds in Lawrence, and Streetside Records in Kansas City.



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