DO OR DIE is Boston Hip-Hop Poet ALAGE’s Masterpiece. Unfortunately it was more than a little overlooked. It’s well-past time to revisit this classicly raw street album. DO OR DIE has much to say, even more some two years after its original release.
First point is how ALAGE’s booming vocals invite comparisons to a few of the best MCs you could name. Ultimately ALAGE stands on his own. Not to be confused with any other MC. Confident defiance, simmering rage are both fuels for the passion running through this album.
The title song itself sets the tone right with its urgency. Anxiety over family and loss fuel that urgency. The infectious “Do My Thang” is perhaps the best of the 14 tracks here. Only by a hair though. ALAGE is “feelin good” in the midst of the album’s urgency without ignoring it. It continues the cleansing of the “Past that came before it.
I can’t neglect to mention the sheer revelry of “Keep It On Lock” where ALAGE’s vocals dare you not to listen. He’s a brilliant vocalist, his songwriting rises above the cliched shallowness of so many other less-talented artists.
Now of course, ALAGE has not let us ignore the Realities of “The Hood” he knew as a child. He’s reflected on both the celebratory aspects of the hood, and the perils as well. It makes for an album with the balance of reality, not simply the gloom he could’ve easily overemphasized.
Boston has a real voice in ALAGE. I really do hope people will revisit DO OR DIE. And consider that it was just a couple years ahead of its time. We can also picture ALAGE feeling trimuphant as listeners catch up to his visionary art. Lesser-talents find themselves chasing trends. ALAGE will be a well-regarded hip-hop trendsetter.