Independent (September 24, 2008)
Reviewed by Ahnon Knomis
Every once in a while a CD comes across my desk that I enjoy even know I would not have heard it had I not been asked to be review and share my critiques. Moodswings by an emcee named illete the 7th grader happens to be one of them. Other than hearing a song off the Sphere of Hip Hop podcast which caught my ear and remembering Cas Metah mention his name (which is memorable — take from that what you will) I knew nothing about this emcee.
Like I always do before sitting down to write a review I try to do some research on the artist which sometimes turns up without much success. Google wasn’t much help other than a few digital links to the album I was already reviewing. However I did happen to find this bit of information: According to illete the 7th grader’s Myspace page he was “born in Panama City, Panama in 1982 and moved to the States after the US invaded in 1989.” I also learned that illete had been writing poetry since the 4th grade, and by his 9th grade year began “filling the rhythmic void in his poetry with raw talented hip hop beats”. Aside from that his background and affiliations are pretty unclear although if his Myspace is correct illete is from Cincinnati, Ohio (a spot that Theory Hazit has been known to rep).
Getting into the album itself, when your dealing with a relatively unknown artist its pretty much hit or miss. 9 out of 10 times its a miss. Having said that I’ll give props to illete for coming correct on several album areas. #1. His beats were pretty dope. Unfortunately they did suffer from mediocre engineering and were not really mixed properly but fresh nevertheless. I think I even heard a reference to Theory Hazit contributing to the beats although there was no production credits on the track list for me to shout out. Its unfortunate because a couple of the highlights had some memorable melodies and decently structured beats.
Contributing verses to the album could be found by some names you might recognize such as Wonder Brown (of Scribbling idiots), Red Cloud, and manChild (of Mars ill fame). There was also contributions on the tables including a unique track which featured DJ Wise, DJ Mike B & Tobotius cutting up the tables on an all DJ scratch track.
Highlights from the album for me included “Satisfactions” featuring Wonder Brown which was a dope melodic breakbeat and wide-atmospheric melody. The soundscape was a backdrop to a concept about the conflicts in ones walk of faith. The inner-battles of compelling arguments we have with our selves contradicting our faith in God with our own needs and wants not being met in the flesh. The concept, nothing new in the genre, yet the speedy and concise while still witty visual imagery made this a winner. This is one track I would definitely enjoy again and again.
“Who?” featuring John Grags & DJ Dq of Glue had an infectious beat of chopped keys that instantly worked for me. The best part of the song was how the break-beat (a constant theme of each beat on this album) changed pace on the bridges to the sound of a heartbeat-like kick drum while a singing hook helped lay a great foundation for the next verse to change it back up again. Another song I would definitely care to revisit.
“Moodswings” featuring manChild, Nebula & DJ Mike B was a good addition. When manChild delivers his verse your no doubt captivated as he delivers one of my favorite and most memorable punch lines on the album “I run the gamut of inconsistent and broken down / I’ll punch a fan if his intentions are to hold me down”… HAHA! You have to appreciate where the plight of an underground artists struggles to get where he’s coming from but I get that grind homes and that was an awesome an unexpected line! Caught me off guard and I like that.
Moodswings the album wasn’t without its needs for improvements. The engineering and recording quality was lacking but I’ve definitely heard worse. Some of the basement beats got a bit stagnant and the consistent 10 tracks of similar sounding production took its toll especially after a few rotations. I even had to call out the Red Cloud collaboration which could have been left off the album. The beat choice wasn’t as up to par as some of the other collaborations on the album but what bothered me the most was that Red Clouds verse was off metronome almost as if it was recorded to an entirely different beat all together? Production wise this album is a bit dated. Had this album come out in the mid to late 90’s with the likes of the Raw Material and Earthworm of the Christian hip-hop genre it might have been more on par with that sound rather than a 2008 release date for which Moodswings had dropped.
All in all I have to give props to illete form doing his thing and I’m going to give this one a co-sign for an independent with a few solid highlights that are definitely worth picking up. If you are in the market for some new undiscovered music why not give this a shot.
Purchase CD – download – iTunes
For fans of: LPG, Wonder Brown, Manchild of Mars ILL, Deepspace5