True

“Sour E approaches the stage, upon request, to the obvious respect of his peers before picking up the mic and declaring that “New York artists need to support New York artists” to make it. It’s a sincere and familiar call in most cities, and one that most often comes from a true heartfelt supporter of the local music scene. The audience seem to agree.

The DJ spins up the record at the back of the stage and things kick into gear.

The track begins with a nice simple one note at a time marker of brass with bass following. A farely by-the-numbers drum machine fill leads us into the beat and the chorus as well. The chorus is memorable and catchy even thought the words are not too obvious in the recording due to the quality being a tad low. Everything at this point is quite nice, normal and safe and sounds like something off of a Jay-Z mixtape, all the way from production to style.

Sour E takes on his own life as he goes into the verse and begins to rap. He moves around the stage like a caged animal, like there just isn’t enough room for his to use. The stage presence is large and certainly helps draw you into his performance, as does the hard hitting rythm of the lyrics which seems to bounce along with power. At this point I really wish I could make out more of the lyrics, but this is not possible due to, firstly the recording quality, and secondly this belief rappers have these days that they have to perform layered vocals live. I don’t mean having a props man calling out certain words so much as a recording or another person rapping everything along with you.

To me, this kills the whole point of live rap. It’s the reason I stopped going to see big name artists performing live, because it was just like listening to them supporting their CD rather then their CD supporting them. I can’t see how the words are being layered here, but it spoils the feel of an energetic underground performance and doesn’t help the clarity at all.

Sour E works the beat and occasionally flips the rythm around taking us from chorus to chorus with skill. At the end of the first chorus a way way over-autotuned voice rather horribly recites the chorus in harmony while Sour E losens up for the next verse. I did mention the over-obsession with AutoTune in the last review, and although it has it’s place, it worked in the other song, but it really doesn’t work at all in this.

Sour E jumps back into the next verse with power and energy and another flip of the rythmic style which smoothly rides us through to the last chorus which nicely sums things up. Sour E calls the last chorus out with power and passion and truly re-asserts that he is too bigger a performer for the venue.

The venue itself is a small underground club which clearly has a lot of love in it, but this performance was one that so clearly showed a performer who is ready for more. It was like he was on the stage at Wembley in his mind already, and that’s the sign of a great live performer. The edges may smooth with time, and I do think that success will come easier with a little more attempt at finding his own sound, niche and element of originality, but it’s all there waiting to happen and this is a complete artist who just needs to find their own way to the big time.

We’ll be watching.” (Video Below)

“So here we are with the live video return of <strong>one of my favorite SoundClick</strong> rappers and a man who is definitely the embodiment of all that is real in underground rap.

My understanding of the problem that fueled this video is that it was shot at a hip-hop event at which celeb MC Ghostface Killa was supposed to show, however he didn’t. Probably had something more corporate to do.

Anyway, Sour E, approached the event feeling uncomfortable in a way that he has expressed before about live shows and that totally shocks me. See, Sour E is amongst the most expressive and genuine looking stage presences I’ve seen, but maybe this is grown from an honest frustration and emotionalism on stage?

As the video kicks in Sour E is called to stage where the frustration is clearly showing and he calls in the beat with some anger and energy. When the beat starts up it’s no longer possible to hear the lyrics due to the video camera’s microphone compression, but you can hear the rythm and the delivery. Although he looks much more frustrated and unhappy on stage, Sour E manages to keep his presence as large as ever and the delivery is extremely smooth, very much helped by some fantastic mic control.

Sour E seems not to address the camera man at the front of the stage for more than the occasional few seconds and very much raps looking above the audience or while he is pacing the stage up and down and not actually looking directly at them. In “stage psychology”, this is usually either a sign of stage fright or a complete want to go home. In this case it’s clearly the latter of the two as is so clearly demonstrated in the energetic, and yet annoyed performance.

About three minutes through the beat shifts down to something a little slower. This re-invigorates the performance and Sour E starts to use his arms more and engage with the audience more directly. Suddenly everything has come to life and there is a sense of renewed enjoyment, although it soon starts to die off again and Sour E goes back to looking frustrated. His faster rap for this beat is fantastically flowed and his frustration clearly never interrupts the naturally talented movement of his rapping.

The performance ends with a frustrated Sour E shouting “Where is Ghostface!?” into the mic before dropping it dramatically and leaving the stage. He later apologized on YouTube for apparently breaking it in this incident. Despite breaking the microphone, however, I must say that this did little but to show the passion in Sour E’s performance. There is no doubt that he is an amazing underground rapper and stage presence who is fueled by his feelings and his love for the art-form, but if he could channel those feelings, in incidents like this, and use it to direct even more power into his performance and towards the audience, then it would be truly amazing. When the beat changed in the latter half, we got to see this as the anger flowed out of him with a renewed enjoyement of the beat, but this was short lived as he was clearly not feeling the music that night, and who can be suprised.

As I’ve said many times before, this is an artist with an amazing capacity for emotional delivery and stage show captivation, but all the anger and emotion has to be channeled into improving and energizing the show more, whatever it is he is feeling.

Recently, Sour E stopped performing live to a layered recording, as I criticized in my last review of his live performance and this is a great step forwards, but I hope he keeps on marching that way because he has so much to offer when he embraces what makes his emotional style so individual and pushes it into both his recorded and live work with the power that he has there to give, but yet to channel.

All in all, there is some great stuff ahead, so watch this space.

http://www.soundclick.com/howardbillington

So you’re expecting something sleepy? You going to get that?

…..Nope

This hip-hop track gets straight to work with a quick piece of dialogue and then the loop coming in which is constructed from a held and then falling brass section that punches quite a wallop while being overlayed with a staccato string section keeping the rythm going.

Suddenly the beat pops in very heavily along with a sung chorus vocal that sounds very typical of the modern rap stylings of singers like Akon or even Usher. It’s all moving reasonable stereotypically at this point and perhaps not really pushing any new ground, so I crossed my fingers for the verse.

The verse starts with a lovely chaotic piece of string work in the background and the rap comes in slowly just lacing the beat. The affect is nice and certainly works out as a tad more original than the chorus at least. The backing changes as the brass loop partially returns and the whole process repeats a few times with a machine-guningly fast hat keeping things tense before bouncing back into the original introduction loop which all provides a good fluid backing for the vocals to work around. This variation in backing keeps going and is really one of the best things about the track is it stops anything getting stagnant. This is especially important as the vocals are based around a very simple delivery in the first verse that is more about painting the picture of a court case. Not the most original of subjects for rap, but one that is probably more about cathasis of some kind and therefore more likely about honest opinions and feelings than originality.

The chorus comes in with it’s same sound and really doesn’t draw me in or particularly stick in my memory as much as it does make me fiend for the next verse.

A verse that starts, interestingly, with a much faster and more fluid delivery than the last. The contrast between the verses does them both a huge favor and give them both their own completely unique parts of the song. That said, it’s impossible to really tell what is being said in the second verse, but it moves with rhythm, flow and skill.

The bridge comes in after the second chorus with the beat breaking down and the chorus singing voice doing something a little more interesting tonally as it harmonises against the track and leaves us hanging on for the chorus with a nice sense of change in tone. That said, the singing is not overly well recorded or mixed and when it finally comes in to the last chorus it doesn’t pack as much punch as a proper studio job would have. The last chorus cleverly mixes in some of the production from the verse to vary it and ends on a simple quick fade out.

The end result is a track with a lot of variation in production, design and delivery and a ton of ideas coming out of it, but perhaps spends too much time sounding like a normal r’n'b rap song. The mixing is certainly not up to the high standards of the production and ends up, along with the poor vocal recordings, letting down the stronger elements of the track. I have no doubt that if this song hit an actual, good quality studio it would have incredible radio value and make an interesting single.

There is a lot in this song to set it apart as well as make it fit in, but it does sound like a practice run and like all of the vocalists are perhaps not overly comfortable with their recording environment, so I would really suggest taking this to a more professional studio level and enjoying the results of what is a promising track.

http://www.soundclick.com/howardbillington

News 12 Brooklyn

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