Saturday, May 10, 2014

A brief review of Locksmith's "A Thousand Cuts"

To begin, I want to thank the homies Rolly and Terry for recommending this album, no matter what direction the review goes in! This would mark my first time hearing an album from the African American/Iranian (Persian) Locksmith, representing Richmond, California.

Release date: April 15, 2014

"Who Am I" (featuring Rebecca Nobel, produced by Nova K.)

 This was a VERY good, introspective opener. Already I was drawn in by his lyrics and straight forward/serious delivery. First song in, this is the one I would recommend starting with if you're just getting into his music. This is not the last time we would see the introspective side of him.

Right after the opener, we go into "Willie Lynch" (produced by Braden Blair), which has a line that immediately became a favorite of mine, "say what I feel to reflect how I'm livin". He's aggressive here, but still nice with it. We then go from aggressive to introspective, which is displayed on "Jaded" (featuring Olamide Faison, produced by Nova K.) and the album's best song, "Hardest Song Ever" (featuring Leah Tysse, produced by Locksmith and Mike Blankenship). This song is not a "hard" one in what we may know it as today in terms of hip hop, but an introspective one (as mentioned). It follows the same formula as the opening "Who Am I" and it gives you a serious look into his life (I also loved how the beat switched in the middle). This would cop a "5 out of 5" rating on its own. "The Know" (featuring Fallon, produced by Locksmith and Mike Blankenship) is dope as hell with its throwback vibe, as well as the feel good sounds of "Free" (featuring Rebecca Nobel), and the perfect "dedication" to all the doubters on "Your Loss" (featuring Anesha, produced by Locksmith and Mike Blankenship).

Rounding out the rest of the album is "Imperfect" (featuring Jarell Perry, produced by Locksmith and Mike Blankenship). It's not the average track for the ladies, however, it's very deep. In something we can all relate to, he talks about himself not being perfect despite all the good in him. He also talks about the lady in his life and problems between them (mostly due to him) and notably an apparent abortion that he regrets later. It must be heard to be appreciated. "I.O.U" (featuring Rebecca Nobel, produced by Locksmith and Mike Blankenship) picks up right where "Imperfect" leaves off and it's just as good, with everything seemingly concluding with "Why You Leave" (produced by Rsonist of the Heatmakers), a truly nice "3 part series". The R.A. The Rugged Man assisted "House Of Cards" (produced by Locksmith and Mike Blankenship) closes the album on the best note possible and lyrically it's on point.

You see, I like recommendations like this, especially when it's something from an artist I'm hearing for the first time. This is an incredible album, with almost no filler, outstanding lyrics (and a nice flow) with matching production. One thing that sticks out about Locksmith is he's not afraid to be himself and talk about his experiences the best way he knows how, and I respect that a lot, going from introspective to aggressive to deep, and back again. A strong 4.5 star rating for this album, complete with a high recommendation to check it out.

Album of the year candidates
1. Pharoahe Monch - PTSD Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [4.5 stars]
2. Prince Po & Oh No - Animal Serum [4.5 stars]
3. Locksmith - A Thousand Cuts [4.5 stars]
4. Ray West & O.C. - Ray's Cafe [4 stars]  
5. Onyx - Wakedafucup [4 stars]  
6. Mobb Deep - The Infamous Mobb Deep [4 stars]
7. Freddie Gibbs and Madlib - Pinata [4 stars]
8. Step Brothers (Alchemist & Evidence) - Lord Steppington [4 stars]

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