Boonie Mayfield (a.k.a. Solomon Vaughn) is a composer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, rapper and producer hailing from Colorado, USA. Although his music could be loosely defined as hip-hop, his music encompasses many genres including funk, soul, jazz, blues and progressive rock, just to cover a few. He cites a huge range of musical influences though, overall, he is most similar to hip-hop artists like Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West and Frank Ocean.
He initially rose to internet stardom through making live hip-hop beats on an MPC 1000 (which he did from 2007-2012). However, as he began to develop as an artist and producer, he found that he was leaving his initial audience behind and decided he had to tread his own path. His interest in diverse musical genres contributed to this eclectic album, which he also produced himself.
Opening track Brothafromanothmotha (feat. Shane Keith) references his past, with a spoken-word monologue over jazzy piano. The Wonder Years is a suitably laid back ode to good times (via herb-based recreation) which showcases his smooth, flowing lyrical style. The third track, Driven (No Limits), has an irresistible hook and a summery vibe that marks it out as a potential single, featuring the brilliant diss line “Popeyes with no spinach…“!
Haterade is another track with a monstrously catchy chorus hook, lyrically a humorous riposte to dealing with the negative people you encounter when trying to make it in the music industry. Audiopium (feat. Jordan Craft) is a slinky piece of hip-hop that proposes the idea this music is an addictive drug in itself, whilst the blissed out psychedelia of the seven-minute Mile Hi certainly makes you feeling like someone has spiked your drink with LSD.
The album then takes a playful turn with Blade Brown and On The One, with amusing skits interspersing the music (including the wonderfully titled Titty Milk N’ Cookies). Things get more serious with Everything (Superficial Lovers), which is a real album highlight, a brutal take-down of shallow relationships based on materialism. Can-O-Dam (feat. ILL University) is also excellent, sounding like Run DMC backed by The White Stripes, with some great lines (“you’re looking so far out I should send a telegram..”).
Foya is a short but sweet interlude, whilst Glad I Found You (feat. Glane May) is a delightfully unconventional love duet (“I swear tonight you’re getting on my f—in’ nerves…”) that shows his Stevie Wonder/Motown influence. Sloppy Seconds is endearingly daft, with a musical backing that sounds like a stoned prog rock band covering Dear Prudence by The Beatles. Closure (Forever I Go) is the perfect finale, a soulful, emotionally honest track about finishing the album itself (“I feel like I’ve lifted a weight off, I’m ready to go hit the stage…”)
Overall, this is a high class, truly innovative hip-hop album that sets the bar for other artist/producers in his field and, to me, it is every bit as good as the Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar records that are currently defining the zeitgeist. In fact, its humour and sonic inventiveness is comparable with De La Soul’s classic album 3 Feet High And Rising, which is often cited as rap’s Sgt. Pepper. With such a wide array of influences, his sound will stay fresh and he will continue to grow as an artist, gaining a large, devoted following in time.
Verdict: 9 out of 10