In an interview with Tef Poe on the RFT music blog earlier this year, the local rapper outlined some of his friendships and associations with emcees and producers around town. In reference to Indiana Rome and his InHouse Productions outfit, Poe said, "I go to him strictly for that classic 808, hard-body, ghetto-bass-heavy sound." That's both an endorsement for and a succinct description of Rome's style as both a producer and an emcee. On his latest album WTHLTGO2 (short for Who the Hell Left the Gate Open 2) he stays true to that m.o., with a few variations. Rome's flow is slick and confident; he may not outsmart you with dexterous rhythms or verbose verses, but his delivery never falters. He occasionally positions himself as a faith-filled seeker of truth of knowledge ("Hands Up High" in particular), but more often he's comfortable spitting game and making boasts. "Prime Time," with production and a featured apperance by Vega Heartbreak, is one of the more outdated of these, both in sound and content. Younger listeners may not realize that before he was a fairy-feathered cable-package shill, Deion "Prime Time" Sanders was a two-sport athlete worthy of esteem, circa 1994.
Rome is a member of the Force, so guest spots from other members of the wide-ranging collective are a matter of course. Rockwell Knuckles lends his inimitable growl to "Lights Out." Teresajenee is a regular contributor, and her doubled vocals give an R&B sweetness to "So Cold Pt. 2" that makes one yearn for the Destiny's Child singles of old. Rome takes care of the bulk of the production with his InHouse imprimatur, though Black Spade and Tech Supreme, among others, lend a track here and there. Rome's palette isn't as out-there or adventurous as some of his Force friends. A few blaxploitation movie clips and disco-hustle samples cut through some of the grime — wah-wah guitar, bongo jams, sappy strings and big brass rise above drum-machine clicks on the reprise of "Hands Up High," which gives a markedly different take on the urban gospel of JBJR's original cut. Those '70s teases — along with an always-welcome Hall & Oates sample on "Rock N Roll" — give balance to that "hard-body" sound that Tef Poe praised. It's always nice to have some smooth to go along with the rough.
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