Review Summary: Potential that's disturbing
College is a very fun, exciting place where people can drink excessive amounts of liquor and find themselves without parental intervention. For two Syracuse freshmen, Guy Harrison and Carter ‘Cartier’ Sims, this meant expressing their love of rap music in a more significant way than listening to it. The two roommates, along with DJ MiGGZ, have released a very strong debut mixtape while only being acquainted with each other for three months.
In a genre characterized by stale, bass-heavy beats, MiGGZ keeps it fresh with a heavy helping of electric drum and soul samples which are always prominent in the background but, for the most part, never take over the tracks. Although bass is still featured, it’s never the emphasis, which is consistent with the higher voices of the MC’s, Cartier in particular. The only misstep is the use of horns on unFAMiliar, which drowns out Harrison’s verse at times. However, he deserves credit for trying a beat so ambitious and for changing it up on every track.
Despite having no prior rapping experience, Cartier’s verses show off the flow of a seasoned veteran and especially clever wordplay. Although he isn’t as talented as Harrison, who has another mixtape Freshman Orientation out as well, he makes up for it with his massive charisma and clever rhymes. Harrison raps at a more methodical pace, similar to Atmosphere’s Slug, and is featured more than Cartier. This is a good decision, as he isn’t a rookie, but you can tell that Cartier’s ceiling is probably higher than Harrison’s. Sometimes, his verses run too long and he never changes pitch, but is clearly very professional and relies less on free associative lyrics than his partner. His delivery is slick like a snake oil salesman and is the mastermind behind the project, which is quite successful. The themes range from college, to back home but mostly focus on bragging, especially at their basketball prowess.
For a chance meeting between roommates and an ambitious DJ who found Harrison using iChat, Backhand Fam has remarkable chemistry and although you can feel that Harrison is the leader, he often passes to Cartier graciously and never steals the spotlight. They also know their own limits, the longest track is 3:40 long, and don’t try to overreach themselves, especially since there are no guests featured. A pleasant surprise.
Recommended Tracks: Backhand, Piff& Orangemen