Combining imaginative, poetic storytelling with distinctive and melodic production, Sum and Belief unites to craft nine tracks that push underground hip-hop to the doorstep of the blues.
Sum and Belief Are the Lone Wolf, the duo's first collaborative album, is laced with a sense of nostalgia, in both words and music. With a style that takes a little from Sum's Southern roots and a little from Belief's Los Angeles beginnings, The Lone Wolf ends up sounding like what hip-hop might have been if it had existed in the 1950s and 1960s, bumping up against R&B and the early soul of Motown.
Belief — who has produced tracks for high-school classmate Murs and Talib Kweli — blends acoustic guitar, piano, banjo, and harmonica into his beats, finding places where the unexpected works perfectly. Reaching back into his North Carolina adolescence for stories and images, Sum is one of the few MCs who seeks and has truly earned the moniker "songwriter."
On "Puddinhead," Sum name-checks Tom Waits and Curtis Mayfield, finding his inspiration in the sort of integrity that sneers at chasing money in a quest to create timeless music. "Next September" is a continuation on Sum's take on a crumbling relationship from his 2006 LP The Lil Folk. The update adds horns to the gritty beats of "September," the duo's first song together, and its tale of staring down the mistakes of coming-of-age irresponsibility.
The Lone Wolf is seamless — if a little short at thirty minutes — and displays an encouraging disregard for any sort of boundaries on what sounds or lyrics can be considered hip-hop. (Worker B Records)