1. Predormitum (Prologue)
2. Darkness (Dream On)
4. Hard As They Come (Act I)
5. Murder (Act II)
6. My Habit (I Haven't Changed)
7. Get Ignorant Listen
8. Shattered Dreams
9. Stars Shine Brightest on the Darknest of Night
10. So As Not To Wake You (Interlude)
11. Enemies with Benefits
12. Looking Back
14. Hypnopomp (Epilogue)
With every release dating back to their 2001 debut album "Will Rap for Food," the Cunninlynguists have proven time and again to be arguably the best the hip-hop world has to offer, and ten years later, their beautifully crafted concept album "Oneirology" only further strengthens that claim. It's their first studio album since 2007's "Dirty Acres," and though they've provided us plenty of superb music in the meantime by releasing perfectly crafted EP's and contributing several features on other underground artists' albums, there's nothing quite like a Cunninlynguists studio album to remind us how startlingly talented this southern trio is. Comprised of MC's Deacon the Villain and Natti, and producer Kno, the Cunninlynguists possess incredible lyrical ability and production skills that lean more towards music-composing rather than "beat-making," and they manage to flawlessly weave them together to create albums that are intelligent, intricate, and enjoyable from the first track to the last with no wasted space. Here on "Oneirology," which means "the study of dreams," the Cunninlynguists explore the mysterious state of dreaming and what events in real life cause specific dreams to enter the mind in the first place.
The Cunninlynguists sound begins and ends with their production, and here, mastermind producer Kno takes the ethereal, magical sounds developed on his recent solo album "Death is Silent" and modifies them to produce a more lucid, dreamy soundscape. The album flows perfectly, with each track having its own distinctive sound yet remaining incredibly consistent and true to the dream-concept of the album. Kno has proven himself adept in the past at making sparser beats to draw the listener's attention to the lyrics, but here he uses everything from synthesizers to high-pitched electric guitars to vary his sound, resulting in lush yet organic melodies that will reveal new, astonishing details with each consecutive listen. The amount of production layers presented to us in "Oneirology" is simply staggering, and it firmly places Kno in the same conversation as DJ Premier and Stoupe of Jedi Mind Tricks for the greatest rap producer ever.
The album is worth listening to for the production alone, but MC's Deacon and Natti provide us with an equally enjoyable set of lyrics for each track to give any rapper in the game today a run for his money. Ranging anywhere from intelligent to inspirational, Deacon and Natti's rhymes stay true to the themes of the songs (driven by Kno's production) and their flows are always smooth and easy on the ears. The lyrics for the most part explore the dreamer's thoughts through different scenarios going on in his life, but sometimes, as in "Stars Shine Brightest," they're simply a celebration of the beauty of nighttime and its marriage with the mind.
The verses, along with seemingly every single aspect of this album, are a reminder of how dedicated this trio is to using every ounce of their energy to create the best, most thematically consistent piece of art they're capable of making. The raw talent these guys possess is extraordinary, but even more amazing is how all of it is fully realized in what will be another classic album in their incredible discography. It is clear from the outset of this album that the Cunninlynguists had an inspired idea in mind for their latest work, and "Oneirology" fulfills every one of those ambitions, resulting in the most sharply produced and best rap album yet of the young decade.