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This album was released on June 21st this year. I’ve never heard of this guy; the only reason I’m reviewing this is because one of my friends has been begging me to check it out because it’s apparently the best album he’s heard all year. We have pretty similar taste in music, so I think I’m gonna love this. I’m pretty sure MIKE’s actually a friend of Earl’s, so yeah. The dude’s actually the same age as me, and I think he lives in New York too. I wonder if I’d be able to get an interview when I move up there at the end of the month… I’ve never done an interview, and I actually don’t know if I wanna change that… Anyway, I don’t really have any other information about this guy. I just checked google to see if anyone else was talking about it, and there were only 4 other reviews I could find. Although to be fair, I only looked at the first page of results. I don’t really know why I’m telling y’all this…
Track 1: Somebody Please (Prod. Slum Rugglers)
Alright, here we go… Woah… WOAH… Dude… Holy fucking shit… Lmao. This beat is fucking insane. This is one of the coolest beats I’ve heard in a LONG ass time. It’s so fuckin’ weird. It’s awesome tho. Wow. I’m gonna love this shit. MIKE finally starts goin’ in after about a minute and 40 seconds. There’s barely any percussion. It’s pretty clear from the first verse on this album that MIKE is depressed. Honestly this really just sounds like Earl with a different voice & flow. That’s definitely not a bad thing since Earl is one of my favorite rappers, but hopefully he does something to set himself apart on this album. This track is really dope tho. I fuck with this.
Track 2: Hunger (Prod. Navy Blue & Austin Williamson)
I’m fuckin’ loving the production on this album. This sample is awesome. Also the way the previous track transitioned into this one was great. The way he raps about having depression is really interesting. He’s not really laying it out there blatantly. He’s just describing his own way of living, which makes it clear how depressed he is. It’s never as blatant as “I know you fucking feel me, I want to fucking kill me.” It’s more subtle than that. If you’ve ever been depressed, or known anyone who struggles with depression, it’s pretty clear that he knows what he’s talking about.
I reach home & hit the mattress quick / There’s a distance I been battlin’ / Tryna reach the gold / City like a sea; niggas leechin’ on your soul.
Oh. The song just ended. It’s only a minute and ten seconds long. I’m looking at the tracklist right now, and more than half of the songs are under 3 minutes. I kinda like that actually. Usually shit like that annoys me because the rapper will spit like two 4 bar verses and then recite the same hook three times, but MIKE makes good use of his time. He just raps. I’m glad not every single song is like that, but at the same time I kinda like it; it allows the album to have a lot more different sounds and songs without feeling too long. It’s 16 tracks, but it’s under 50 minutes. Anyway, I really like this track. I love the sample based production and MIKE did his thing too. This is dope af.
Track 3: armour (Prod. Navy Blue)
This beat is dope. Hmm… The way MIKE’s flow kinda evolves over this beat is really interesting. You don’t really notice it while it’s changing, but if you pause the song in the middle of the verse, and then start it over, you’ll notice that his flow is completely different. Then it kinda resets every few stanzas. Another thing I’ve noticed is this washed out sound in the background of the album. It’s on every song. It’s like he recorded this in his closet while it was pouring down rain outside. It’s not as irritating as you’d think tho. It kinda adds to the depressed atmosphere of the project. This is another one of the really short songs. I liked it. I don’t think this is gonna stand out from this project like the previous track did, but it’s a good song. I enjoyed this one.
Track 4: Pigeonfeet (Prod. MIKE & Slum Rugglers)
This is definitely one of the better beats so far. I still haven’t really wrapped my head around MIKE’s flow yet. It feels really sluggish, but not really in a bad way. It’s got a really raw sound. His flow is dragging through the production like a stick in the mud. The first verse was dope. The flow feels like it’s getting smoother as the song progresses. It sounds like a first take. It’s like this was his first time hearing the beat before rapping over it, so he kinda had to get adjusted to the sound before really catching it. The hook’s cool. The second verse was nice. Oh fucking shit. I absolutely love the instrumental outro on this track. This is the best part of the entire album so far. I like this song a lot. This is dope af.
Track 5: GREED w/ Standing on the Corner
There aren’t any production credits for this track; I’m pretty sure it’s just gonna be an interlude leading into the following song. It’s starting now. Hmm. Maybe Standing on the Corner is the name of the artist(s) who produced this. This is really fuckin’ dope. It sounds like a really slowed down Jazz track with pitch shifted talkbox vocals. It’s smooth as hell. Honestly… I think this is actually my favorite track so far. This is really great. I don’t have any problems with it at all. This is dope af.
Track 6: GREEDY Feat. Jesse Brotter (Prod. MIKE)
Alright, this beat sounds like a more energetic, faster paced rendition of the previous track. It’s dope af. The first verse was cool. I feel like I’m not really enjoying this album as much as I initially thought I would. I definitely like this track, but it just feels like there’s a slight disconnect. Maybe it’s because none of the songs really have a specific subject. That’s not usually a problem for me tho. It just feels kinda unfocused. This song doesn’t have a hook. There’s just a short break between the first and second verses. The second verse was cool. Man… This instrumental he used for the outro is awesome. Just like with Pigeonfeet, I like this outro more than the actual song. Nobody’s performing over it. This Jesse Brotter guy is just talking about being from the hood and making music. The song just ended. I like this song a lot. Again, just like with the previous tracks, the production is the most impressive aspect of the song, but I really enjoyed it overall. This is dope af to me.
Track 7: 100% Feat. King Carter (Prod. Sixpress)
King Carter spit a quick 12 bar verse for the intro of this song, which was cool. I’m not crazy about the synthesized vocals, but it’s not that big of a deal. This is probably my favorite beat on the album. MIKE’s verse was 32 bars, but it still felt short to me for some reason. The song ended. It’s just over 2 minutes. I don’t really have anything to say about it. I enjoyed it. I’m still more impressed by the production than anything else tho. This is dope.
Track 8: FOREVER FIND FLIGHT (Prod. Sixpress)
This beat is dope af. This Sixpress person is awesome. This is the first track on the album that sounds like a complete song. The first verse was nice, and I like the hook too. The way it segued into the second verse was awesome. This is easily the best song so far. The second verse was fantastic. The beat switches up after three minutes, and it’s even better than the original one. This is really fuckin’ good. He’s spittin’ his ass off on this new beat. The beat just switched up a third time. Man… This is so fucking cool. His flow is phenomenal on the final verse. This song honestly blows every other track on this album away. It’s probably not a coincidence that the best song is also the longest one. It’s a little over 6 minutes long. If the other tracks didn’t feel so incomplete I’d probably love them just as much as this one. This shit is dope af.
Track 9: Brick Blues (Prod. Sixpress)
I love this beat. Sixpress needs more placements. MIKE’s flow on this verse is cool. Oh. The song just ended. It’s a minute and a half long. It’s hard to find something to say for each track when they all have pretty much the exact same structure. It kinda feels like the whole album is just one long verse broken up over different beats. I like this track. It just doesn’t really stand out much to me, especially after that previous track. It’s dope tho.
Track 10: Rainforest (Prod. Sixpress)
This beat is great. It actually sounds like… I don’t know how to say this. Umm… Okay, if you could take a rainforest and somehow turn it into a song, this beat is exactly what you’d get. That’s stupid. That’s what it sounds like tho. I hope this Sixpress person gets more attention because he fucked this album. The verse from MIKE was cool, and his lazy vocals on the outro sounded good over this beat. Pretty much everything I said about the previous track can be said about this one. It’s dope.
Track 11: STANDOUT Feat. Wiki & Chip Skylark (Prod. Tony Seltzer)
Hopefully the features on this song will keep it from sounding as skeletal as the previous couple of tracks. It’s starting now. This beat isn’t bad. The first verse from MIKE was fine. Is that Chip Skylark on the hook? I’m not familiar with him, so I don’t know what his voice sounds like. I can’t tell if this is MIKE or Chip singing right now. Okay, yeah that’s Chip Skylark I think. His voice is a bit deeper than that of MIKE. It sounds good. Wiki did his thing on the second verse. Wait a minute… Isn’t Chip Skylark the name of a character from The Fairly OddParents? Hold up…Okay, yeah. It’s this motherfucker.
I don’t even know how I remembered that shit; I never even liked The Fairly OddParents. That show was boring as fuck to me. A lot of shows were really boring to me when I was little tho. I also thought The Rugrats, Rocket Power, and Hey Arnold! were boring. I was more of a Johnny Bravo, Ren & Stimpy, and Invader Zim guy. Also I shared a bedroom with my brother who is 7 years older than me, so Family Guy was my favorite show when I was in preschool. The new episodes are fucking terrible, but I still think the first few seasons were pretty good. Why the fuck am I still talking about this? Anyway, I enjoyed this song, but that long winded outro was not necessary… This track is dope tho.
Track 12: Paul Feat. Johnny U (Prod. Tony Seltzer)
This beat is alright. Uuuuh… I’m not gonna lie; I’m kinda bored right now. I’m just getting tired of MIKE’s lethargic delivery and repetitive flow. I’m more than halfway through the song already. It’s just more of the same. Nothing about this song is really impressing me. Johnny U’s verse was actually really fuckin’ good. I’d probably like this song more if the production was more interesting. It’s an okay song, but I’m never gonna listen to it again.
Track 13: awalkingharlem Feat. King Carter (Prod. MIKE)
This beat is dope. I know I’ve heard this sample before, but I can’t remember where… Hmm… Wait a minute… It sounds just like the saxophone outro from Terrace Martin on untitled 5 by Kendrick Lamar. Maybe he sampled that. This first verse from King Carter at the beginning is pretty great. His verse was really dope. I love how chaotic this beat sounds. It sounds like a muffled, lo-fi version of the tornado scene from The Wizard of Oz. MIKE’s verse was good. This is definitely one of the better tracks on the album. I really don’t have any problems with it. This is dope af.
Track 14: Years / Alone (Prod. MIKE)
This beat is pretty cool. I just listened to the entire Years song. It was good. His repetitive flow got kinda old after a while, but I enjoyed the song. Again, he didn’t really do anything he hasn’t done on every other track. Years is about one minute and 45 seconds long. It switches to Alone exactly at the midpoint of the track. There’s a really nice saxophone loop in this beat. I’m not really crazy about the percussion tho. Eh… Alone is alright. I definitely like Years more, but Alone is decent. Overall this is a good track.
Track 15: VICTORY LAB Feat. Mal Devisa & King Carter (Prod. MIKE)
This beat is really dope. King Carter killed the first verse. The hook from Mal Devisa is alright. She kinda sounds like a female version of whoever sang the hook on The Message by Jay Rock. Oh shit. MIKE’s flow on this second verse is great. It’s a lot more aggressive and fast paced than it usually is. It kinda runs outta steam as the song progresses, but it was still a good verse. Uh… I actually really don’t like this hook… Fuck. I don’t know if I like this song. The hook kinda ruins it for me. I really want to like this track because Carter & MIKE killed it. I just can’t get behind that hook tho. It’s an alright song. I just won’t be returning to it.
Track 16: ROCKBOTTOM / PEACE TO COME (Prod. MIKE)
This beat is alright. I just uh… I just listened to the whole song. This honestly might actually be my least favorite song on the whole album. It’s one of those songs that just sucks all my energy away when I hear it. The production sounds like a dark, lo-fi Cloud Rap instrumental, and MIKE’s vocals were pitch shifted. I’ve never liked Cloud Rap, and I usually don’t like pitch shifting either. I don’t really think this is a bad song—it’s actually pretty good lyrically—but sonically this is unenjoyable for me. It’s tolerable.
This is a really good album. That’s it tho. “Really good” is as far as I’m willing to go. This project is heavily flawed. The first half of this album is far superior to the backend in my opinion. I mentioned that the album was pretty short since a lot of the tracks were under 3 minutes long, but it still felt really long to me. It’s probably because almost every song on this album follows the same formula. The song structures are really skeletal & modest. He doesn’t really get very adventurous anywhere on this album. Once you hear the first song, you can pretty much predict what every other track is gonna sound like. The production on the first half was pretty great, but it got less and less impressive to me towards the end. Sixpress needs to do a whole album for MIKE ’cause his/her beats were all fantastic. MIKE isn’t really the most interesting MC to me. He really just sounds like a SoundCloud version of Earl. He has kind of a boring delivery and flow. Oh by the way, remember how I mentioned the rain sound that’s ubiquitous throughout this album? It’s actually the sound of waves crashing at a beach. I thought I should clarify that. I’m now realizing that it doesn’t matter at all tho. Anyway, I know I kinda just went in on this album, but it’s really good. I’m glad I listened to it. Personally I’d only recommend listening to it in short bursts because despite the short lengths of each song, it’s still 16 tracks, and they’re almost all identical structurally. I usually love when MCs rap about depression, but there’s a bit of a disconnect when they don’t really specify why they aren’t happy. That’s always been the one problem I have with Earl. They rap about the way they live and how they feel like shit, but they don’t really explain why or how they got to that point. It’s tough because I was diagnosed with severe Major Depressive Disorder, so I know a lot of the time there’s not even a reason for one’s depression. A lot of people who struggle with the disease literally feel like shit all the time for no reason, so I can’t really blame them for not being able to explain why they feel the way they do. It’s just a personal gripe I have. It’s a good album tho. Especially the first half.
Favorite Song: FOREVER FIND FLIGHT
Least favorite song: ROCKBOTTOM / PEACE TO COME