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This or That? Step Brothers (Evidence & Alchemist) vs. Step Brothers (Starlito & Don Trip)

Step Brothers versus Step Brothers. It’s like if John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell cloned themselves and … battled or something.

This week we debate the merits of marijuana Alchemist and Evidence’s new album ‘Lord Steppington’ against the work of Starlito and Don Trip, the Southern duo that’s made two outstanding eponymous albums. One group is carefree; the other is charismatic.

‘Lord Steppington’ starts and ends with fantastic production. The beats thump at all times, though they often do more thudding than banging. Alchemist is a better producer than he is an MC and Ev’s monotone slow flow is an acquired taste so it’s the production and irreverence that keep you around.

Evidence and Al live in a carefree world seen through bloodshot eyes. There aren’t any repercussions to the actions they take. It’s all very narrow-minded. The listening experience mirrors that – when the music stops, you struggle to remember much of what they were talking about besides weed, knots and rivals.

Starlito and Don Trip are the polar opposites of Ev and Alc. They’re like the older, wiser and weathered Step Brothers who have gone through too much to treat their lives lightly now. Alchemist mentions he’s paranoid; Starlito will painfully walk you through that feeling. Lito and Trip take time to show off on their second album (‘Paper, Rock, Scissors,’ ‘Pimp C 3000′), but the weight of both their projects deals with heavy-handed subjects like depression, jealousy, and the need to survive.

Starlito is damn near one of the best rappers out when he balances his wordplay with his introspective side, but Don Trip provides the right contrast. He tends to stay outside of his own thoughts and focus on what he needs to do, but Starlito struggles with his past and is often caught in reflection of his own habits. They are both much more than caricatures – these are real people trying to make a living and carve out a respectable space for themselves in this cold, cruel world. That’s what makes both of their albums continuously rewarding – their bare humanity.

You’re not listening to ‘Lord Steppington’ for the bars. It’s Alchemist’s blunted aesthetic that nestles in your ear and makes your head nod, whether using wispy vocal samples (‘See The Rich Man Play’), tinkling melodies (‘Tomorrow’), or booming drums (‘Legendary Mesh’). Evidence is a very good rapper, but that’s about all you can say of his performance. Another hit of chronic and he might forget what he was rapping about.

Ev and Al joke about the things that Lito and Trip take seriously. One group is lighthearted; the other simply sounds burdened. Yet even with the palpable stress, Starlito could rap circles around either West Coast MC, generic trap beats be damned. ‘Lord Steppington’ has it’s head in the clouds while the Southern Step Brothers don’t have any time for that s—t. That’s the ultimate choice that the listener needs to make when deciding which group is better – do you want to forget about your troubles or deal with them head on?

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