Monk Wordsmith, Thig Natural, Just D'Amato.

While acknowledged in certain circles as one of the most talented all-around hip-hop groups in the city of Seattle,


The Physics: Updated and Smoothed Out on Love Is a Business

Monk Wordsmith, Thig Natural, Just D'Amato.

While acknowledged in certain circles as one of the most talented all-around hip-hop groups in the city of Seattle, a rise to a more general popularity has been elusive for the Physics. The Seattle trio's new LP, Love Is a Business (out tomorrow) though, is a beautifully orchestrated feature that has captured the group at their most inviting, and has the potential to grab more new listeners than any of their previous work. But regardless of the mass appeal of their new offering, Thig Natural, Just D'Amato, and Monk Wordsmith have been cranking out nothing but quality since their inception.

In 2007, The Physics released their debut full-length Future Talk, a crisp jazz-and-R&B-influenced rap album with friendly, down-to-earth lyrics and surprisingly polished production. The second track, "Ready for We," was a startling, absurdly beautiful vignette that rightly planted the group in the heart of the city's hip-hop scene. If there was ever a down moment among the album's 17 tracks, the duo of Thig Natural and Just D'Amato (Monk Wordsmith was away at college during the making of this one) were cool enough to play it off like they were just messing around and never intended to take themselves too seriously to begin with, so we shouldn't sweat it.

Two years later, they released a stellar eight-track EP called High Society that was more focused and even more accomplished than its predecessor. The wealth of live instrumentation and accomplished songwriting rolled the best moments from Future Talk into a half-sized masterpiece that still stands as one of the best pound-for-pound rap records to ever come out of the city.

Tomorrow, the Physics will release their second full-length Love Is a Business to the public, celebrating with a two-part release party at the Crocodile. Their sound has been updated and smoothed out even further, but was still produced mainly in-house (with a few superb additions from Jake One, P Smoov, Bean One, and DJ Nphared), and graced with the same approachable rhymes by the stately pedestrian Natural and the neighborhood documentarian (his brother) Wordsmith.

The title track kicks off the album with a couple of sly guitar notes and a bass line that kicks in hard at the end of a few measures, and Natural kicks a few solid confessional verses that are some of the best on the album. Strong vocal performances from Malice and Mario Sweet, J. Pinder, and the gang push LIAB into more of an R&B realm than before, but as always, the Physics make it work. The second track, "These Moments," is melody-driven, abandoning drums entirely in favor of rhythmic bass notes, and "The Red Eye" flips Eddie Kendricks' sultry "Can I," turning it into an airy head-nodder with down-time rhymes from Natural and Wordsmith. The Jake One-produced "Seward Park" is another slow ride through the city, and "My Place" (from last year's three-song Three Piece EP is rap-free in the traditional sense. Also from Three Piece, the DJ Nphared-crafted "Coronas on Madrona" is a cool banger, and more beats-and-rhymes than some of the other tracks, but fits in well.

Even when the group pulls in outside help, the arrangements still very well belong to the Physics: They are the visionaries, the uniting force. Love Is a Business is a fantastic album, maybe their most accessible to date; and even if they never make another song as striking as "Ready for We" or a record as concise as High Society (though this one comes close), this could be the one that pushes them over the top.

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