When Stephen Bryden (known onstage as "Sankofa") announced his intentions to release his whatzup Battle of the Bands III semifinal set as a live album titled The 06, I was worried. Not because the quality of the material or performance, but rather, I was worried that the sound quality wouldn't do justice to what Sankofa himself will openly refer to as the best set of his life.
Taken from the audio recorded on a video camera Sankofa borrowed from the library, the 10 tracks from that much talked about night sound just fine, thanks to Jon Gillespie's post-production and, apparently, a pretty stellar camera. In addition to the 10 semifinal tracks there are seven addition tracks, but I'll get to those later.
After Sankofa's impressive win in the battle's first round he began devising a plan of attack for the remainder of the competition. Upon entering the semifinal round 'Kofa claimed that his "time was up" and thus decided to stockpile his wealth of ideas into one action-packed set. The result was a 25-minute spectacle saturated with engaging banter, new material, loads of crowd participation, a rare and emotional performance of "RDB," a slew of funny antics and, most of all, as much stage presence as you're likely to find. Simply put, it was the best set of his life, and, against his own expectations, it took him to the finals where he would win second-place honors.
Packaged in an sturdy cardboard sleeve featuring the print work of All Nite Skate's Kay Gregg, The 06 offers an aforementioned slew of unreleased material in addition to the semifinal tracks. First up is a track called "Lenin's Jukebox" which was originally the name of a collaborative project between 'Kofa and Left Lane Cruiser. This two-in-one track – recorded on one of those old clunky mono tape recorders – is the only known output of the trio's multiple garage sessions last winter. About the project, Sankofa reports that all involved parties still work together, just not in the form of Lenin's Jukebox, adding "Brenn [Beck] has agreed to produce a beat comprised of him banging on a freezer for me. And I'll be dropping vocals to their version of "Deep Fried" on their next album"
Track 12, titled "EDS," harkens back to 'Kofa's rap roots. Explains Sankofa, "I purchased one of EDS' instrumental CDs the first night they were available, wrote an recorded to my favorite beat and then gave it to him the next day. EDS gave me permission to use the track, and I hope people did it."
Also included is "I Knew It," which 'Kofa describes as "the typical result of me not having beats running through songs and looking for something to loop and then rap over." Clockwise," which he says is "one of my all-time favorite beats getting the 'I want to write and record raps but don't have a beat' treatment," is yet another reminder of his pure talent. "Shark92" is a promo that was once posted on his Myspace page pre-Still Means Something, while "Ognihs" is a collaboration with fellow White Collar Criminal member Ognihs.
Sure, the bonus material is great, but mostly The 06 is a document of one great, otherwise unbelievable summer night in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Some would argue that 2006 was Sankofa's year; those who don't agree probably haven't heard The 06 yet. The album is limited to 60 copies and designed to fill the space in between Sankofa's last album and his upcoming The Tortoise Hustle.
Those wanting to snag a copy should e-mail Bryden as soon as humanly possible at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also make sure to check out Bryden's television show, "Shoes and Movies," on Comcast channel 55 at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays. It's strange.
Copyright 2006 Ad Media Inc.