ALBUM REVIEW: Vaughn Solo 1st Edition by Boonie Mayfield

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Boonie Mayfield (a.k.a. Solomon Vaughn) is a composer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, rapper and producer hailing from Color ado, 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.

This fifteen-track release is the follow up to 2013’s Boonie Mayfield meets Solomon Vaughn and he has stated it is a mixtape rather than a proper album (I’ve always been a little hazy on the difference, but I’m sure there is one). It maintains the same qualities as its predecessor; acerbic, often hilarious lyrics delivered with panache over an eclectic range of musical styles, and some seriously catchy hooks.

It starts with The Beginning – over a gentle soul musical backing we hear a monologue from the martial arts film The Last Dragon, then No Handle Bars employs a Curtis Mayfield track to lay down some brutal (but funny) disses of other rappers: “Who knew I was a guru with the flow? What do you do? Talkin’ all that doo-doo, no commode, no tissue on the roll…”.

Good Girls (feat. Istayjammin) is also full of highly amusing (if politically incorrect!) lines, and a perfect example of Boonie’s effortless rhyming skills: “I can tell you’re trouble, cos you know you got a bubble that’s got niggas seein’ double when they’re looking from behind…”. The chorus hook “Maybe I just need to go to church….” is one of the most memorable on the album.

Pass The Offering discusses his dedication to his art (“came from the golden age of music to motivate ya……plug a mic to my Apogee and I will happily drop an album and sell it from the trunk of a raggedy car…”) and money issues over rich organ and a funky bassline, one of the punchiest and catchiest tracks on the album. Things mellow out for a little while with the laid-back beats of Remember When (feat. Jordan Craft) and That DOELEMITE! (feat. ill University) while seventh track, The Vaughan Solo Killer Bee-Itch! is entertainingly strange, with its humorous helium-style vocal hook.

After that, the mood turns more serious as he reflects on the issues of dealing with effects of fame and the music industry, with the brief but intense My Love For…., then the claustrophobic Elfman/Nobody Got Time; a riposte to haters and internet trolls. 8-18-14 (The Summer Breakdown ) is Boonie at his most bare and honest, describing his financial struggle even after becoming well known and influential.

No More Of This Shame hits an even lower point, a moving from-the-heart confessional about wanting to make his family proud and the futility of chasing fame delivered over sparse, melancholy piano: “Can’t tell if I’m going for broke or going insane…”. Personal Shit deals with a relationship changing through the effects of success, and not for the better.

After these emotionally heavyweight tracks, Ode To The Joy (feat. Blaque Plaque the Plague) provides light relief over a mellow groove, before the inspiring Dreams (“to reach the promised land you gotta go through the wreckage…”) takes the positive mood up still further. Final track The Ending is a good light note to end on, after the intense emotional drama of the album’s middle section.

Overall, this is a superb follow-up album/mixtape to Boonie Mayfield meets…..showing again his entertaining brand of hip-hop but also showing his serious artistic side, unafraid to explore and confront the darker sides to life and the human condition. This gives the album a huge emotional range and power that brings to mind Kendrick Lamar’s recent To Pimp A Butterfly. If he can maintain the quality of his last two albums, he is sure to find big success eventually.

 

Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 8.8 out of 10

 

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