Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"Control System" Album Review

Nobody's Chattel

By Rampage

"They will be our chattel, that means slaves—it means collateral. You're secured as collateral." - Bohemian Grove

The closing words of the song "Bohemian Grove" send a chilling message of enslaved citizens who are being controlled by a higher power. This is the album's main allegory and as "Terrorist Threats" repeats this message, ("I just wanna be free/I ain't tryna be nobody's chattel") it is clear that Ab-Soul is not interested in music to make profit, but rather to spread his life story and make prophecies.

West Coast conglomerate Black Hippy features some of raps most promising artists. With Kendrick Lamar's breakthrough album Section.80 and Schoolboy Q's album Habits and Contradictions it was time for Ab-Soul to step into the spotlight with a single work which could establish him as an artist. Control System distinguishes his role.

There's a lot to like about Ab-Soul. For one, he can hold his own on tracks with Kendrick Lamar, he's not afraid to experiment with his music and vocal range with other singers (Jhene Aiko & the late Alori Joh) and he has many styles which make Control System a fresh independent release resulting from an artist with full "control" of his art.

The album's high points come from his ferocious raps stemming from his disdain against the government's control of the people (Terrorist Threats), confidently bragging about why he is one of the best in the game (Track Two, Illuminate), and his vivid storytelling anthems (Bohemian Grove). His versatility as an artist is seen with different rhyme schemes, flows and homophones "I wrote like Edgar Allan, I was po' like Edgar Allan" (Pineal Gland).

Many of the tracks I've mentioned come from the first half of the album and that's when the momentum is at it's highest point. When "Double Standards" comes around—a social study on the stigma of cheating between men and women—it isn't Lupe Fiasco's Lasers bad but it seems out of place given the tone of the album.

"SOPA" is the lowest point of Control System, apparently being an opportunity for Schoolboy Q and Ab-Soul to let off steam backed by an annoying bass heavy beat and ignorant lines about nothing. Even "Lust Demons" veers into pop single territory and "Beautiful Death" has an annoying hook and guest verse weighing down it's interesting topic.

The slower songs do not always handicap the album though. Lightly packed bars sung in tracks like "Empathy" and "A Rebellion" switch up the pace as he displays his individual nature and his perspective on relationships. Also the powerful "Book of Soul" shows the dichotomy of a rap artist who does not fear criticism, biological obstacles, or the passing of a close friend.

After having gone to a show where Ab-Soul and Kenrick both performed, Ab-Soul can truly hold his own on the mic despite his status as an underdog. His onstage presence is embodied in Control System

I believe this album is a great start in showing his potential and if the 17-track offering was a few songs shorter and more cohesive in style it could have had more impact. That being said, it still remains one of my favorite releases of 2012.

My Rating:

Nas - Cherry Wine (Music Video)

Nas releases the newest visual from his posthumous collabo with Amy Winehouse this morning. "Cherry Wine" is easily one of the best songs from his latest album Life is Good. Amy Winehouse is projected on the wall during the chorus much like how The Notorious B.I.G. was for his verse on "Mo Money Mo Problems" and Nas works the bar trying to find the girl that's down for him even on his job.

Dope song and video check it out below.

Related Posts: Life is Good Track-by-Track Preview

Kendrick Lamar - "good kid, m.A.A.d. city" Tracklist & Cover Art

Currently on tour the BET Music Matters Tour with Ab-Soul and Jay Rock promoting his album, Kendrick Lamar's debut comes out October 22nd and it is available for pre-order on iTunes now.  Features include Lady Gaga, Jay Rock, Drake, Dr. Dre and MC Eiht. While I do wish Ab-Soul and Schoolboy Q could have been featured I understand why Kendrick is experimenting with other artists. The official tracklist below and also Kendrick took to twitter tonight to leak "Compton" produced by Just Blaze and featuring Dr. Dre, take a listen here.

1. Sherane a.k.a Master Splinter's Daughter
2. Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe
3. Backseat Freestyle
4. The Art of Peer Pressure
5. Money Trees (feat. Jay Rock)
6. Poetic Justice (feat. Drake)
7. good kid
8. m.A.A.d city (feat. MC Eiht)
9. Swimming Pools (Drank) [Extended Version]
10. Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst
11. Real (feat. Anna Wise)
12. Compton (feat. Dr. Dre)

Deluxe Edition (Cover & Bonus Tracks)

14. Black Boy Fly
15. Now or Never (feat. Mary J. Blige)
16. Collect Calls
17. Swimming Pools (Drank)

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