Humble Beast (August 30, 2011)
Review by Ahnon Knomis
Braille and new label Humble Beast connect to deliver the freely distributed studio album titled “Native Lungs” . The latest offering from the Portland artist marks his 6th solo record and by my account at least a dozen releases if you include the addition of crew projects. In the span of the last few years Braille has dealt with the death of his father, an emotional divorce, moving across the country from East to West coast and back again, closing of his own label Hip Hop IS Music, a new marriage, and most recently the Christening of a new label in Humble Beast… So what can we as a listener expect from the artist after such epic challenges in his personal life? The answer to that question has been as consistent as political corruption and a rising national debt. Braille delivers personal transparency into his life and shares his love of God with intent of expressing humility and shine in the same breath. It’s those valued traits that keep listeners such as myself coming back for more.
Without the need for a bio recap, Braille has always brought along a solid team to help through-out his catalog of projects. Native Lungs is nothing short of that. Solid. In comparison to most basement artists recording albums with poor quality backed by cover art that looks like it was jacked from low resolution web images and free fonts from the internet mashed together… It’s refreshing to know that there are still artists out there whom take this craft seriously. Lifting a line from Braille’s first solo album at the age of 15 “music made for God should be the best music ever made”. For years now I’ve seen him keep that bar high with producers like 9th Wonder and S1 to professionally recorded and mixed albums in a legit studio and in many cases well known studios at that. From the recorded sound to the packaging you can tell nothing is short-changed. Props to Braille for always keeping the bar high even if you intend to distribute your hard work for free to the public as was the case in this release.
Producers on “Native Lungs” include Odd Thomas & Xperiment, S1 (who you recently heard on the Kanye West “Power” beat production), DaveNotti, Calvin Valentine, Trox, Ohmega Watts, Evidence, Khysis, and even Braille himself puts work in on a majority of the production of the album.
Guest spots are slim but include DJ Idull on “48 Prisons”, DJ Rob Swift on “The New Raw”, Theory Hazit and Odd Thomas on one of the stand outs of the album “Death In Me” where Theory cleverly drops names of heavy metal bands as punch lines to deliver his Gospel message of Salvation! In a word, Impressive! DJ Revolution makes an appearance on another stand-out “Feel it” which is best heard at high volume! A few other collabs are heard through-out as well.
Overall the progression of the album is an extension of everything we have heard from Braille in his studio releases. With a touch more of a direct Gospel approach here as maybe apparent in some of his previous releases and a heavier hand in the production fans will get a chance to hear the 2011 Braille perspective. For fans, this is a no brainer. Download it for free or make a purchase on your favorite digital music store and support future album releases. You have nothing to lose but much to gain. Seldom do you get a chance like that in life huh?