"If It Ain't Been in a Pawn Shop" isn't like any other Hip-Hop record I've ever heard; much of this uniqueness has to do with Qwel's rhyming skills. There is a power in Qwel's lyrics that you can't find in a lot of today's rap. Its all about lyricism here; the beats are simple and uncluttered, it's in the lyrics that "If It Ain't Been In a Pawn Shop..." gets its layers of complexity. There's a darkness that in his words and in the beats and they hit hard. I was feeling physically depressed after I finished listening to this CD -- I guess that's the power of music.
Best Track: "Quest For Fire" is the best track, its a seething track that will hit you like a runaway train full of sledgehammers.
Reminds Me Of: An introspective Mos Def.
The Bottom Line: "If It Ain't Been In a Pawn Shop..." is pure street poetry in the best form I've ever heard it, if you're looking for something to pick you up from a bad day though, this ain't it. This is art, but I sincerely doubt its mainstream appeal.