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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

YWB reviews The Prelude

I take the opening moments of a record pretty seriously, and this tact usually pays off. The easiest example I can think of is Redman shouting, "where the weed at?" on The Blackout, because that's pret-ty much all you need to know about that great record. Vlad's The Prelude has two intro's, the first is a more traditional--funny and effecting--shout-out track that uses a pulsing beat from The xx. The second, "Say You Will Freestyle" is a formal introduction to Vlad's world and his music:

"Everyday I try at this rap shit/ knowing I probably won't make it/ but if I put my mind to it, it's mine for the taking ... all [my girl] wanna know is if I'm going on prom/ ... I know I sound like an ass, but on the real though, do relationships last?/ ... fuck college, they say, 'Man, you tripping,' but they can't see all the beats I'm ripping." 

It's a statement about being young with lofty goals, pitted against a bit of self doubt. About feeling conflicted about the intuition that is college when you actually do feel your talents are strong. What the tape' misses are the relationship problems it introduces in the opener. Vlad's girl doesn't show up again until track 9's "Please Don't Blow My High." What the album forgets in their conflict is recovered through Vlad's wish to get his my mom out of the hood. The image of door number 1301 haunts the tape. It could very well be named 1301 and Heartbreak. Vlad is concerned with getting just enough money on the serious songs and making nights epic on budget on the bangers.

Chief among them is, what is basically the single, "Wawa" which carries effortlessly with without a verse for this hit (eh!). The "Break Up freestyle" does what the title suggests and proves to be the most experimental track on the record, with "yeah!" ab-libs spit over a Southern drawl. "Run This Town freestyle" is damn good punchline record ("I spit Oils ... Titans in 96').

From there the tape hits the weed section for three tracks. First of which, "Good Life" is my least favorite track, mostly because of the lazy hook--"cash, hoes, that's all I know" etc. Luckily "Please Don't Blow My High" has the hook and feel of a golden age hip hop track and "Flight to the Moon" does justice to it's influence (Cudi's "Heaven at Night"). 

What makes "Good Life" stick out like swollen shin is that Vlad essentially corrects himself four songs later, with the track "We'll Make It" when he says, "don't me wrong, I like money, cars, clothes, the hoes, I suppose, but it's more to life than just that: I want to get a message across."

The last stretch of album is really encouraging because it shows where Vlad is going as an artist. He switches up flow and sings on "We'll Make It" and starts "Over freestyle" with his composure only to speed his flow up tenfold by the end of his first verse. It's here that he seems most comfortable with his talents--of the four times he uses the "this,oops, I mean that" rap trope, it works the best on this track--and really dominates the beat. "Dream" begins with a spoken word/poetry piece that fits right into place with the rising piano and strings that Vlad makes sure to treat with care, until the synths drop and he calls a Manning-eqse audible. The synths carry over to the "Outro" that samples Justin Timberlake's perfectly crafted "Love Stoned." 

The last official lyric, "only time will tell" is the thesis of the young artist. Vladdy's next project, tentatively titled The 2nd Serving, should expand on his message; because and introduction or a prelude doesn't always tell you everything you need to know. It only tells you what to look forward to.

Rating: YUUUUP of out a possible YUUUUUP


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