This album was released on January 17th this year. It’s the self titled debut album from The Professionals, which is a duo comprised of brothers Oh No & Madlib. It was announced toward the end of 2019, so it was pretty much the first release of 2020 that I was actually anticipating. With that said, I’m actually really surprised by how little attention it’s gotten since its release. I haven’t really seen many people talking about it. The thing that makes it even more bizarre is that Madlib barely promoted this at all. It seems like he’s calling a lot more attention to the Bandana instrumentals that were released on the 31st. That’s kind of a red flag to me, but maybe it shouldn’t be. I’ll say it’s a magenta flag. So, it’s kind of concerning, but not really. There is a red flag though. What little reception I’ve seen for this album has been pretty mixed. A lot of my acquaintances who’ve listened to it expressed disappointment to me, so that kinda sucks. I think I’ll enjoy it, but I’ve lowered my expectations at this point. I’m no longer expecting it to be one of the best albums of the year, or even of the month. I’m still looking forward to it though. Every song is produced by Madlib, and the bulk of the rapping is handled by Oh No, aside from the features.
1. My House
This is just an introductory skit; I don’t know what movie or show this audio clip is from, but it’s wild. Whoever’s talking is mad as shit, and he’s being super mean and aggressive. This shit is hard lol. He verbally degrades his target and threatens to cut his heart out and eat it. I really like this. It’s raw as hell.
2. The Pros
The previous track transitions into this one really nicely, and the beat is really dope. Oh No’s rapping on this song is really nice too.
I could squeeze blood out the driest stone
Buzzed outta space that the astronaut pilots flown
Above the clouds, and when I’m down, I’m on an iron throne
Where niggas act wild and get thrown into a lion’s home
There’s pretty much just one verse, so the song is very short. It only lasts about 80 seconds before the outro comes in. I really enjoyed this track, but it probably would’ve been a more fulfilling listen if there was one more verse or a feature. I still think it’s very good though. It’s a dope track.
3. Payday featuring Adub
The beat on this one is really great; it sounds like it’d be perfect for Anderson .Paak. The hook is nice too. I’m actually not familiar with that Adub guy, but his vocals sound pretty good. I liked Oh No’s rapping on this song, although I kinda prefer his performance on the preceding track. I like this song a lot, but the “YEAH, UH HUH” ad-libs that are constantly being repeated by Adub are pretty annoying to be honest. This shit is still very good though. I’d say my favorite aspect of the song is Madlib’s production, but Oh No did his thing. I fuck with this song.
4. Give n’ Take
This track probably has my favorite beat up to this point on the record. It’s dope as hell. The storytelling from Oh No on this track is pretty well done too, even if the actual content isn’t particularly interesting to me.
She called for the fix
The speakerphone’s loud, she was horny as it gets
And when she get started she don’t quit
I can hit chains ’til it sounds like whips
I heard she a freaky chick
The lines about how she lives in a super messy house in a neighborhood full of mansions reminded me of this meme…
This track is pretty good; I like it slightly more than the previous one, but it’s still not amazing or anything. I fuck with it though.
5. Superhumans featuring Elzhi & Chino XL
This was the single that I heard from this album at the end of last year, and it’s fucking incredible. Madlib’s production here is awesome; I love the Too Short sample. Each verse is better than the one it follows too. Oh No’s performance was dope as hell.
The superhuman skill that I’ve acquired marvels the marvelous
Blow your marbles all on the marble floor where the target is
His delivery here is relatively aggressive, which was cool to hear. Elzhi’s verse was amazing too; that deck of cards scheme was wild.
El be goin’ hard like he’s tryna make his ex look
I ain’t learn to earn these type of checks inside a textbook
Graduated from the school of hard knocks
Kings fake jacks, queens dealt with jokers in they card box
Was runnin’ round with my ace boon coon
Before we got face, and chased pumpum
However, Chino XL absolutely annihilated this shit. His verse here is insane.
Chino the conquerer, Incredible Hulk in real life
Nail you to the wall through your palms in a church for Whitney Houston’s crackpipe
Went to the funeral wearing all white
When you get to heaven you & Jesus Christ can share what crucifixion’s like
This is easily the best song on the album. It has some CZARFACE-ish undercurrents, which is cool. I think this song is incredible, and I wish the rest of the album was this exciting. This shit is dope af.
This is another highlight on the album for me. I really love the beat on this track; it’s far more melodic than the preceding instrumental. Oh No’s rapping here is really nice too. The hook is actually pretty great as well.
“Why you claim that you a doctor?”
Because of all the incisions
The way I chop with the precision
Envisioning me, locked up with Frankenstein
Pulling’ switches, creatin’ monsters
I think this song has one of Oh No’s best performances on the whole project. This shit is dope as hell to me.
7. CDP Smackdown
The beat on this track is fucking awesome. I really love the first verse from Oh No too.
I walked in, smacked him ‘cross the face
Knocked him off his place
Threw the first chair like in Office Space off the pace
The leg took off his lace mask, saw his traits
The crowd screamed loud from the bloody trace
This song has a lot of uncredited features. Wildchild’s verse was actually really great, but I wasn’t as crazy about M.E.D.’s performance. I’ve never really been much of an M.E.D. fan personally though. He’s always just been really boring to me, but he was okay here I guess. I think that was Roc C on the fifth verse. His performance was pretty solid, although nothing to write home about. Same goes for the penultimate verse. I actually don’t know who that verse was performed by, but it was decent. For a second I thought that it might have been Madlib himself, but I’m not really sure. I haven’t heard Madlib rap in a long time, so I kinda forgot what his non-Quasimoto voice sounds like. Oh No comes back in for the closing verse, and he did his thing. I like the violent lyricism on this track a lot. I was worried that this would be a corny wrestling song when I saw the title, but it’s actually not; this is much more UFC than WWE, which is a good thing in my opinion. I like this track, although some of the features were less entertaining than others. This shit is still dope though; I fuck with it.
8. Timeless Treasure
The production on this track is pretty solid, although it does get old after a minute since it’s so repetitive. I like the way Oh No is flowing over it though. The instrumental break after the hook sounds really awkward to me; the way the beat kinda switches for this part is jarring, and it just gets more and more off-putting as it slows down. Honestly, this is definitely my least favorite track just because I don’t really care for the beat that much. I think Oh No rapped over it well, but the song just isn’t that enjoyable for me overall. I definitely don’t think it’s bad, but I won’t be returning to it. It’s just okay to me.
9. I Jus Wanna
This is another highlight on the album. The production here is absolutely stellar. The beat is super smooth and melodic; it almost sounds To Pimp a Butterfly-ish. It reminds me of These Walls. I really wasn’t expecting to hear anything like this on this album. I don’t know if that’s Oh No singing on this song, but it might be. It could be an uncredited vocalist though. Oh No’s rapping here isn’t amazing or anything, but it fits over this beat really well. He’s not trying to spazz out here and spit the illest shit on the album; this is clearly meant to be more laidback and mellow than everything else. It’s definitely one of my favorites on the project though. The singing isn’t amazing, but it’s better than I would’ve expected from Oh No. This shit is dope as hell to me.
10. Away Too Long
The beat on this track isn’t bad, but it isn’t particularly memorable. It sounds more like something that should play in the background of an interlude rather than the main loop of a full song. Oh No’s rapping on the first verse, but I’m almost positive that this is secretly a Gangrene & Professionals crossover because that really sounds exactly like The Alchemist on the second verse. I definitely think he had the better performance here.
Fresh off the culdesac
I rhyme in wild designs like the cobra’s back
Money comin’ out my jeans, impossible to fold a stack
Military MAC-10 hang from a shoulder strap
I definitely like this song to some extent, but I’m a bit underwhelmed by the production. I still think it’s pretty good though. I fuck with this track.
11. Make Due
The beat on this track is really cool to me. The first verse here is nice too. I wasn’t crazy about the hook at the beginning of the song, but when it comes back in after the first verse it sounds much better due to the additional uncredited vocals. The second verse was great as well.
Back to the green power
Back to the lab, snapped, and back to the seed flowers
Now it’s a wrap, smack right dab in the baby powder
To keep it all fresh in its infancy in an hour; it’s all baby steps
I admittedly kinda have no idea what he’s really talking about here, but the baby scheme is nice, and the way it connects to the following quatrain is really cool. I wouldn’t call this a “highlight” on the album, but I really fuck with it. This is dope.
12. Tired Atlas
The beat here is kinda simplistic & very repetitive, but it’s solid I guess. It just doesn’t sound like something that a lot of other producers wouldn’t be able to make. It’s not one of those “holy shit, how did he make this?” beats from Madlib. The more political content of this song is dope though.
Kim Un push nukes, Putin change the vote booths
Police ain’t got patience, they just wanna fuckin’ shoot
Anybody black; that’s a fact, and it’s terrible
Livin’ inside an era that’s arid, bringin’ that terror through
I think the first verse is pretty great, and the hook is nice. The second verse was relatively underwhelming, but still pretty solid I suppose. I like this song, but it’s far from a standout track in my opinion. It’s cool though.
13. Dishonored Valor
The beat here is thankfully really awesome. The storytelling on this song is fantastic too. Oh No describes some characters who were in the military, who I guess went AWOL and started participating in some mischievous endeavors. The hook is kinda weak, but the actual rapping is really entertaining to me.
I know some homies that got PTSD
And now they havin’ flashbacks
Of stories of HAZMATs, and being ransacked
And now they on Paxil & Xanax
To hold back the thoughts of all the bad acts
Oh No killed this shit. This is definitely my second favorite song on the album; it’d honestly probably be my number one favorite if I liked the hook more. This shit is still dope as hell though. 🙂
This album is really, really good to me. I wouldn’t use the word “great” to describe it, but I’m definitely satisfied. I can see why some people were disappointed though. This is far from Madlib’s best production; it’s actually pretty inconsistent, and definitely a weaker entry in his catalogue. I was actually much more pleased with Oh No’s rapping. I always thought he was a pretty good MC, but his performance was still much better than I was expecting it to be. I think he did a great job here. I think some more exciting features would’ve done a lot to make this album more enjoyable to be honest, but the biggest weakness is the disappointing production. I enjoyed this a lot though, and I definitely think it’s worth checking out. It’s dope.
Favorite Song: Superhumans
Least Favorite Song: Timeless Treasure
Watch the video below for more thoughts on this album.