- Music Journalist, MTV Senior Hip-Hop Editor
Music journalist with over 10 years experience reporting for MTV, XXL, Vibe and The Source.
- music videos, music writing / blogging, music journalism, music, music curation
- hip-hop, r&b
- New York
In my opinion, the best thing about this is the music video. I watched it back twice, I thought it was well done and could create some good conversation. The type of conversation that you should be able to get a bit of press around. I'm not sure if the song works as well without the video. That's why I clicked the "I like it" button. Musically however I wasn't that impressed. DeLon can clearly rap. And the beat has elements that can really work. What didn't work for me was that it was kinda all over the place. Good raps, then it almost turns to edm for a few beats and then gets real poppy with the "Na Na Na" part. To me it kinda feels like this song tries to appeal to everyone with three different types of musical approaches, but it doesn't do any ONE genre very well. Again, technically it's a good song. But it's not as good as any of the pop/rap/dance songs that it seems to be modeled after.
This is cool, sounds more like an interlude than a song. The slow flow didn't really do it for me, it reminded me of a Dom Kennedy-conversational type of flow, which works well for him, but can get boring really quick. I was also expecting the rhyme energy to pick up a bit after the beat drop. There was this build up for about a minute, and the beat went up another level with the drums, but the rhymes and vocal energy just kinda stayed in the same place. I would've like to see the song evolve a bit more.
It's always hard for me to gauge a record when I hear the live version first. But this was clear and hit the right way. The raps on here are dope the way you connect words, kind of reminded me of Black Thought with your cadence and vocal tone. I didn't love the camera work and editing, I used to work at MTV so I'm aware of these types of things BUT I'm pretty sure you had no control over that. It's a great look regardless.
The songwriting in this song is really dope. I love the beat and the rhymes and flow in the first voice is on point. The hook is perfect. My main critique would be the mix, I think the vocals sound like they're sitting on top of the beat, when it should sink in more. The vocals feel cold and too crisp, I'd bring in more lows, make it feel warmer. The beat too, I'd love to feel the baseline more and the the drums. And that doesn't mean make em louder, but just warmer. The second verse feels a bit out of place to me as well. The MC in the second verse had a lot that she wanted to say and some of the lines sound rushed. There was a time in the late 90s and early 2000s where plenty of rappers rapped like that in a very conversational tone, but it sounds dated in 2015. Overall this is a good song with a great message and a real soul feel, a tweak on the mix could really bring out the best here. Hope that helps.
Guru from Gang Star said "it's mostly the voice" and you have a dope voice. I listened to this song 3 times back to back. I love how your deep, bassy voice fits over these bright keys. There's a real soul to your voice. This kind of reminds me of early Mos Def in a way - Black on Both Sides era. You do a great job at displaying emotion. Sounds melancholy and hopeful at the same time. I also appreciate the wordplay in the section where you say "life's a movie and you feel like the token black" and "gamble but you can't get your tokens back" and "take your bone and take a tote of that" - really good wordplay. Do that more. This song does get repetitive though, I dig the alteration sound of "broke and black" so the question is how do you keep that without sounding monotonous ? I would suggest laying some melody under the hook, maybe a soulful hum that just fits in the pocket under the hook, just so it feels different from your verses. This song won't have much mainstream appeal, BUT it could sound bigger and more soulful by adding things here and there. I dig it.
So I listened to the track twice. It's real solid. The beat worked and I appreciated the rhymes. I really dug dude on the 2nd verse, is that Mikrofone? His voice is dope and killed the flow, I always appreciated the back and forth flow at the end, not many MCs do that anymore. The 1st MC could've been just a bit tighter with his rhyme schemes but there was nothing bad here. As far as the song, while it was solid, I didn't walk away with a feeling of who the artists were. If the goal was just to present some dope rhymes, yall did that. But you want to leave the listener walking away with a sense of who you are and that's where you guys could've done better. I also think the mix can be together, though it wasn't bad. ***note*** I read your description after I wrote anything above. The fact that you recorded this deployed in Iraq is dope. Did you have a studio out there?
Considering that you didn't have a studio, this sounds good. This song gives me more of a glimpse of you. I listened twice. I love the message in this. Hook is good, next time try to lay some more harmonies under your vocals, it could help make it sound bigger. Just humming a little something in the background can make a difference. 1st was ok, 2nd verse is tight, but I really liked what you did in the bridge when you start incorporating melody... The I fell in love with forever part. You have good Instict, when you get back to the states I think you should try to find a producer who can help you grow and be in the studio challenging you to get the best vocal performance. It's good all around, but there are lines you can hit better. Like for example ... Verse 2 when you say "way bottom I keep it on the low" ... You kinda whisper on low which was good... You should've did that same voice inflection on "go" in the next line. Would've matched perfect. Also at the top of verse 2 that internal rhyme structure is ILL... "Awake" and "bound" and "mistake" and "down" and how you keep it going. On paper it's ILL and you execute it GOOD but it could've been better. You could've really highlighted that whole scheme by falling in pocket perfectly and using the right inflections. That's what having a producer in th studio can help you with. Someone to coach you to get those vocals PERFECT!