Review Summary: This one's got a bright future, real bright.
British producer MC Xander is, at the very least, a rather interesting fellow. Primarily, his talent is beatboxing, which he then loops, alters, and records. What results is a strangely captivating brand of hip hop that even Cunninlynguist’s Kno could take a lesson from. On top of that, he has a penchant for dubstep and often switches between its rolling bass lines and tribal hip hop on a whim. On top of this, he is a rapper who’s verses consider the metaphysical as well as the political. If that wasn’t enough, (are you sensing the pattern?), his vocal style is primarily reggae which suits the choruses with a soaring sense of melody. He’s at least interesting.
In the hands of less capable producers, this would be a catastrophe. Yet, in his debut album Eyeopeness
, the listener is greeted by the formula with which Xander makes music. A clearly beatboxed portion is then progressively altered until opener ‘White Light’ glides in with eerie high tones over an increasingly complicated rhythm. Then, Xander greets us with a verse style that dominate the album: hyper groovy, mildly technical, and disgustingly catchy. The entire album follows this theme, resulting in a wonderful little album with a hint of beginner’s luck.
When asked about his sound, Xander once described it as progressive dancehall. With a laundry list of influences on top of that, his music is surprisingly cohesive. The tracks flow nicely between genres, pausing for little ambient interludes. The hyper fun track ‘Gnosis’, for example, has this neat little electro-beat and feels like a walk in the sun. This feeling bleeds into the very next track, as ‘Sick Of The Lies’ takes that stroll and makes it a march, featuring a (mildly) more aggressive style without losing the melody or missing a beat. This sort of liquid tension between tracks allows Xander to explore everything that influences him while avoiding disjointedness.
In this exploration, Xander ventures into varying conflicting styles. His style of dubstep can best be described as a slightly more subdued brostep. The sections are loud but never obnoxious, and are best featured in ‘Spaceship Earth’. Listen closely, and it’s obvious that the sound is Xander saying womp a few times. Even though this sounds like a joke, the song keeps with the albums catchy theme along with its polar opposite, a dreamy pop pseudo-ballad called ‘Save A Bit Of Light’. Shifting and changing styles on a whim isn’t a problem for Xander, his problem is a matter of luck.
While the amount of fun to be had with Eyeopeness
is worth the sticker price alone, for some that’s simply not enough. Those looking for much else (for example, those with deep reggae spirituality) shouldn’t find much. Also, while Xander’s appreciation for dubstep makes for some of the most interesting sections of the work, ‘Fat Bud (Part 1)’ is just out of nowhere. It has this brostep-worshiping beat but it sounds almost as if the beat itself is drooling, leaking out of your speakers. Eventually it shifts into a trippy song with slightly annoying womping breaks, but the opening enough is enough to skip sometimes. These little gripes give off this sense of a beginner’s first try, which generally (but not always) feature minor mistakes. At the very least, MC Xander has established himself as a substantial newcomer in the game, and it will be interesting to see what the future holds for this eclectic man.