Few explanations are required as to why hometown stalwarts Dragon Fli Empire titled their latest (and free) effort Mission Statement . This album represents in every sense what Calgarians (and Europeans apparently who seem to have taken a fancy to the two-man crew) have come to love: mid-’90s New York beats from DJ Cosm thought-provoking rhymes from Teekay and guest features from all over the hip-hop map (most notably Brand Nubian’s Sadat X).
In classic Canadian rap fashion the duo have never been especially flashy. But what’s lacking in 808s and high-profile hooks (translation: why DFE won’t ever make it big in the States) is largely made up with a shit-ton of passion and consistent camaraderie between emcee and turntablist.
The tape isn’t perfect — the hooks sometimes fall flat and the verses occasionally feel cliched. But all that’s largely outshone by the remainder of the album. Take standout track “The Way It Goes” as an example which combines an Erykah Badu-sounding singer chill-as-Rakim flow and crackling keyboard-anchored production. Perfect? Nope. But easily the best free Calgary release of the year.