SINGLE REVIEW: California Dream Girl by Ant.

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Ant. is a hip hop artist/rapper hailing from Denver, Colorado. He’s a new artist in the hip hop world and this single, California Dream Girl, is his first release and was recorded in Los Angeles, California. With no formal background in music, he has nevertheless taught himself the skills necessary to create the music he wants to make. This particular track was written in a state of deep depression following the tragic death of his father in an ocean accident.

Despite the difficult circumstances in which the music was composed, it is in fact a laid back hip-hop track with a summery sound and vibe. It starts out with a slinky, toe-tapping beat and the instantly memorable female-sung title refrain, which works in perfect contrast to the rapped verses delivered by Ant. His rapping style is distinctive with an assured delivery style on the mic.

The first verse displays his natural gift for rapping with a smooth and effortless lyrical flow, though his low state of mind at the time is evident from the opening lines: “Yeah, my heart’s broken, at times overly focused, stressin’ bout the next mission, focus, relapsin’, copin’,  got a dope mind spinning Einstein level emotions…”.

The second verse is somewhat lighter in tone with a woman, along with California, providing some emotional solace: “She sittin’ kissin’ and blushin’, same time the celly is buzzin’…they miss me up in the city but Cali, it’s way too pretty…”. Some fine female vocal extemporizations augment Ant.’s to great effect.The way the rapped and sung sections complement each other dynamically shows Ant. has studied the previous greats of hip-hop and knows exactly how to make a track work.

Overall, this is an excellent first single from an up and coming hip-hop artist who has his already developed his own unique style and makes music that will appeal to hip-hop fans across the board. California Dream Girl has all the makings of a big hit with a memorable chorus hook combined with first rate rapping and lyricism provided by Ant. Provided his further material is of this high standard he will surely become a major player in the hip-hop world over time.

 

VERDICT = 9 out of 10           

Alex Faulkner

 

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SINGLE REVIEW: Halo by Marc Illy

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Marc Illy is a hip-hop artist, pianist, rapper, vocalist, songwriter and producer originally born in Pittsburgh. He was raised all around the world and has lived in Cape Town, Los Angeles, Costa Mesa, San Diego and Boca Raton, Florida. He now resides in Los Angeles. In 2008, he was the opening act on Method Man’s “Still High” tour as well as touring around Taiwan for two and a half years. He creates music in order to inspire and encourage others, along with his work as an entrepreneur and social influencer.

This track, Halo, is a mid-paced hip-hop track that showcases Marc Illy’s skills as a songwriter, rapper and vocalist. Starting with a brooding bassline, the track breaks into a laid back groove that gets the toe tapping, augmented by tasteful bursts of light electric guitar and Rhodes. On the verse, Ally raps with an assured lyrical and rhythmic delivery and a distinctive style. Lyrically, it depicts the struggles of the creative process: “So many songs never made it to the outside, going through a crisis cos without music I’m feeling so lifeless…”.

But the main theme of the track is captured in the instantly memorable sung chorus, about channeling and appreciating the best parts of our nature as people: “Don’t let them try to steal your halo, don’t forget that you are an angel….”. In the second verse, he depicts how hard life can be in the city with blunt honesty and brutal effectiveness: “So many people don’t even have a f***** home…and you complain you don’t have a screen for Netflix shows….”.

Overall, this is an inspiring and uplifting hip-hop track that boasts both superb rapping about real life subject matter and a catchy vocal hook that reels you in fast. Marc Illy’s lyrics are raw and honest, giving an emotional depth to his music that adds to its power and artistic importance. His music has a more noble and spiritual message than you find in most hip-hop, which often glamorizes violence and material gain. It’s a vital, positive message conveyed by great music and deserves to be widely heard.

 

VERDICT: 8.7 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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SINGLE REVIEW: Steal My Soul by Troy Remedy ft. Mary Bragg

Troy Remedy is a hip hop artist and producer from Dallas, Texas. The latter part of his moniker was inspired by the healing effect of music itself and there is a strong spiritual vibe as well as the influence of soul in his hip hop. So far, he has performed in cities like Dallas/Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin and Houston. He has previously released the singles Underdog and City Lights from his upcoming debut album My Own Worst Enemy.

This track, Steal My Soul (ft. Mary Bragg) is a good showcase for his musical fusion of hip hop and soul. Starting with an intro of picked acoustic guitars and synths, the gorgeous vocals of Mary Bragg enter before the track breaks into a languid but muscular hip hop beat with deep dub bass. The track starts with the arresting title hook: “I just want you to know you can never steal my soul….”.

Troy then takes the spotlight with a captivating lyrical delivery, rapping about having to overcome adversity and encountering negative people in his life: “Those dark souls who try to steal your inner glow”. His abilities as an emcee can stand alongside the best in his field, with a fluent, assured style and verbal dexterity. The contrast between his rapped verses and the female vocals on the chorus work very effectively in tandem but it’s the moral depth to his words that really makes him stand out from the crowd with lines like, “Too many times I’ve seen the destruction of innocent lives….”.

Overall, this is an exceptional fusion of old school hip hop with elements of soul, similar in style to The Fugees but more akin to Chuck D of Public Enemy in terms of its hard hitting but spiritual lyrical content. Aided by first rate production values and the excellent vocals of Mary Bragg, Steal My Soul sounds like a major artist stamping his authority on the hip hop scene.

VERDICT = 9 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

Listen here:

https://youtu.be/SWaKlXfz-oc

SINGLE REVIEW: Bout It by BIG KIDD

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BIG KIDD is a rapper/hip-hop artist hailing from Western Australia. Despite being currently unsigned, his music has already made a strong impact and drawn a considerable fanbase online. He has co-produced and released several tracks, collaborating with studio owner Rob Shaker and engineer Uncle Sam, as well as rapper COMPLETE.

So far, he has released original material including T.W.N.M.H (They Were Never My Homies) and Smash N Dash, along with versions of tracks by 50 Cent and Eminem. A couple of months back I gave a rave review to his blistering track, Bk.

This latest track, Bout It, clocks in at only ninety seconds but those ninety seconds are the most exciting I’ve heard in hip-hop since Eminem was at his peak. It begins with ominous piano chords, setting the tone for BIG KIDD’s explosive, hyper intense lyrical delivery. The track addresses those who have been trash talking him, but he is not concerned: “Boys talkin’ out their mouth but they really ain’t about it...”.

An addictive and infectious beat kicks in, allowing him to show his rhythmic dexterity and control, the rhymes coming thick and fast. While he does bravado and fighting talk in style, there’s an extra depth and honesty to his lyrics as he’s very open about the struggles he’s endured along the way: “Paranoia on my mind…….been through a lot of pain, a lot of misery, so putting you down ain’t sh*t…are you kidding me?“. The last thirty seconds reaches an electrifying level of intensity, ending with the chilling sound of gunshots.

Overall, this is another knockout track from a passionate hip-hop artist who is fast becoming Australia’s answer to Eminem. He’s no pale imitator though, taking aggression and brutal, unrelenting emotional honesty to the next level. With continued output of this quality, BIG KIDD could well become the next big thing in the hip hop scene.

 

VERDICT = 8.8 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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