Seven long years after his introduction to Charleston’s hip hop scene, Abstract – That Rapper brings us his first solo release, Mosaic EP. It’s a quick 20 minute listen, and gives you a good introduction to Abstract as an artist. Abstract’s overall message of positivity over a slew of boom bap beats channels the golden era of hip hop in the 90s.
The project starts with a voiceover playing, talking about mosaic art and how beautiful it is. Next, Mosaic jumps into it’s first real song, “Soho Lounge”. The first thing I notice about the project is that is that is has a live feeling to the mix. It makes you feel like he’s standing on a stage coming through the mic in a super crisp quality. The album follows this formula for quite a few of the songs — sample at the beginning, followed by the song itself.
The first real thing to break the monotony is his single from 2018 (2018! What has Abstract been doing since 2018!?), “Mumble Rap”. This song breaks the standard chain of how the songs on Mosaic flow, there’s no sample, the beat is a bit outside of the 90s boom bap standard he follows, and there’s a second part of the song that brings a slower vibe to it. I have a love/hate relationship with this song, because it essentially takes jabs at “mumble rap”, which is how rappers who value lyricism describe the current landscape of music. I think this sonically, this is one of his better songs but I hate the concept.
Another interesting track on Mosaic is “Catchin the Wave” featuring Yemi, Scene Jesus & Dollasign. It starts out with Abstract using autotune, which is quite uncharacteristic considering he just finished laying into current rappers on “Mumble Rap”, literally two songs before. “Catchin the Wave” is the closest thing to something modern you’ll find on the project, although not my favorite.
The last 2 songs both were great in concept but the quality of both tracks is abysmal in comparison to the songs. First, you get “Do Work Media Freestyle” with a very energetic intro from VP and Emeka, over a beat that sounds like a b-side from the duo Ratatat. The outro, you hear a sample play, and there’s a pause of a few seconds, which leads you to think the project is over, and then a poorly mixed and probably too loud beat hops in and Abstract hops into another track to end the project. I think I could have done without these at this quality, but would have been welcome if they matched the quality of the rest of the album.
Overall the project is a rather easy listen. It’s short, it’s to the point, it’s pretty consistent in it’s sound and nothing seems out of place. On the other hand, the music has a dated feel to it and while the boom bappy lyrical wave of hip hop isn’t completely over, this does a great job of replicating the old and not bringing in the new. Mosaic EP is what happens when you take too long to release a project in that you get caught in a sort of time loop and don’t move forward, in trying to finish what’s in front of you. I’ve been seeing a lot of these songs live for quite some time now, and in knowing that it’s further proven that these ideas and sounds are a bit dated.
On the chill scale, Based on the Extra Chill 5 degree scale I’d give this project a rating of Lil’ Chill mostly because I know he can do better and the music, while lyrically not bad, feels dated.
It’s 2020 and we need to step into 2020 with our sonics as well. Also every song needed to be bumped up about 5-10 BPM. As always, my review isn’t the end all be all and despite it’s rating, the album is still an easy listen, so give it a listen for yourself to decide.
See the music video for “Wu Would Never Die” ft. Dr. Mambo off the new EP here.