Binary Star was formed in 1998 when rappers One Be Lo and Senim Silla met while serving time in a Michigan prison. After their release the duo recorded, mixed and mastered an album called Waterworld on a paltry $500 budget (apparently all of the album’s verses were recorded in a single take).
Although only 1,000 copies were made available, the album gained a significant underground following and in 2000 Binary Star released a remixed, rearranged version of Waterworld called Masters of the Universe. It went on to sell 20,000 copies and is widely regarded as one of the finest indy hip-hop albums released in the last decade or so.
Indeed, on Masters Binary Star come correct with dope beats and ill rhymes. Produced largely by One Be Lo and a beat maker from Michigan called Decompoze, the album’s beats are mostly up-tempo, boom-bap joints built around funky soul samples (“Slang Blade,” “Binary Shuffle” and “Honest Expression”) and jazzy piano loops (“Indy 500” and “New Hip Hop”). Several of the tracks also begin with samples lifted from martial arts movies – an obvious nod to the Wu-Tang Clan that works suprisingly well given how often it has been copied by other cats.
Lyrically, One Be Lo and Senim Silla are virtually without peer. Profoundly poetic, the duo’s rhymes are characterized by intricate wordplay, subtlety, humour and a deep understanding of poetic device. Moreover, both rappers posses incredible flows and deliver their rhymes with a cadence that is near perfect. To better understand what I mean, check out some of my favourite tracks below:
Binary Star – Honest Expression (Masters of the Universe, 2000)
Binary Star – Slang Blade (Masters of the Universe, 2000)
Binary Star – New Hip Hop (Masters of the Universe, 2000)