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If you've ever read Wooden on Leadership, a motivational book by UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, you'll remember that one of his keys to success was never playing to win. Rather, he trained with the goal of playing the right way. And he trusted that doing so would inevitably lead to wins.

You hear the same philosophy in Blame One's Endurance. Despite a frustrating career that has already seen a number of premature claims of retirement, the North County emcee remains dedicated to what he sees as the right way of making hip-hop: soulful loops, skills, and substance. These old-school fundamentals pervade much of his music and they are refined to great quality in songs such as the emcee-slaying "Left Shattered," the socially conscious "Ride For The Truth," and "Do Work," an autobiographical ode to the 9-to-5ers. Blame is best when he meshes these elements, like on "Still Doin' Me," where he jumps from calling out fake emcees "melting words together like welders" to reiterating his mission to bring solace through his music. It's a convincing display of lyrical craftsmanship.

And though it is a chaotic time for Blame — he dives head first into a declining music industry after having parted ways with his stable day job — he keeps faith. He knows his fundamentals are intact. He's making hip-hop the right way. The rest will follow.

  • Album: Endurance (2010)
  • Artist: Blame One
  • Label: Independent
  • Songs: (1) The Elders (2) It's a Stick Up (3) Ateteaeight (4) Still Doin' Me (5) Do Work (6) Step It Up (7) Right to Exist (8) CA All Day (9) Ride for the Truth (10) Classic Hits (11) Glass House (12) Endurance (13) The Illest (14) Studio Time (15) Brett Favre'n It (16) Left Shattered
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