Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Mini Chandelier

Today we have Canadian producer Factor's The Chandelier EP, from his full-length album, also dubbed The Chandelier, that came out this August on his own label, Side Road Records. This EP conveniently collects the best vocal tracks with the most notable MCs, and leaves off all the boring instrumental stuff.

As you can see, it's a 7" picture disc on Ooohh That's Heavy Recordings, a label that specializes in limited 7" edition picture discs. And, yeah, this is limited, too. 500 copies were made; but that's beginning to feel like an appropriate, regular run on hip-hop vinyl these days. So, it's six solo songs by an eclectic collection of guests: "More Rude Than Handsome" by Awol One (California), "Time Of the Year" by Sadat X (New York), "The Leen" by Josh Martinez (Canada), "Good Old Smokey (My Kanine)" by Mykah Nine (California), "Pray" by Ceschi (Connecticut) and "Out Of the Same Thing" by The Gaff (Canada).

Like you'd expect from a Freestyle Fellowship veteran, Mykah gets creative with his flow, this time using a quick staccato delivery to contrast with the slow beat. Each sylable is deliberately pronounced, fitting in between rather than over each piano note, chopped vocal sample and drum hit. I get the impression both the MC and the producer were making a showcase track here.

Awol One, on the other-hand, goes for a sing-songy hook and a very relaxed flow for his verses/ The beat features driving power chords, rolling piano riffs, and a snare-heavy drum. The production is amazingly effective at making Awol's verses sound distinct and important, and he's written his unique brand of lyrics and dramatic pauses for the tune: "People and passion die inside. Your friends are just dorks and losers; my friends are incredible people that change peoples' lives. And my friends they influence the world. Your friends are just little drunk boys and girls with big dreams that they'll never carry out." He doesn't quite bring his A-game in the writing, which is a shame because the track is going all out for him, but the combination of the music and his delivery still make this a worthwhile Awol One venture.

Ceschi and Josh Martinez also go for sing-songy hooks. I don't know if Factor's beats just naturally inspire that type of hook, or if he specifically requests it. It doesn't sound out of place at all for Josh, who's upbeat number sounds like it could be lifted right off any of his recent albums, but Ceschi sounds like he's auditioning for The Eurythmics or something. It's certainly interesting, with a simple guitar loop, strong bassline and keyboards that sound like they're straight out of a Lucio Fulci film - but he leaves hip-hop a little too far behind for my tastes.

That's not a problem for Sadat's track, though. With sharp, horn-like keyboard stabs and a chopped vocal sample, care was clearly taken here to make Sadat sound at home on this track. But there's still enough piano and guitar here to make this exercise stand out from your typical Sadat X album filler. My only disappointment here is that it's too short - just 2:04... Sadat really only kicks one (nice) verse. If he'd just added one more, this could've be a successful single for Sadat to coincide with his new album.

Finally, The Gaff's contribution is a short DJ track. He cuts up various vocal samples as Factor adds and subtracts one musical element after another. The actual cutting is unexceptional, but it all adds up to a nice little interlude, anyway.

So, all in all, it's a solid EP. The best moments, the ones you'll find yourself going back to, are when the guests really manage to keep up with the producer. The rest is definitely passable, and will easily keep your head nodding if you've got it playing in the background. Bottom lime: they've made an affordable EP (and as a bonus, they've made it a cool picture disc) so you can skip the clunkier full-length. Definitely worth picking up for the highlights.

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