Review Summary: Archetype has the ability to blow you away even though it lacks cohesion.
I discovered Tonedeff a few years back while I was on a determined binge to find obscure hip-hop. My disenchantment with the genre post 2000 grew to great heights because most radio rap was unbelievably bad. It was during this time that I picked up a copy of Archetype. Upon the first listen, I was totally blown away. The beats are lush and the lyrics are decent. Tonedeff's flow is extremely polished, and almost to a fault. There are very few rappers in history that can compete with his utterly stunning delivery, but sometimes it sounds just a little bit to contrived. He's admitted so in a song earlier in his career called “Champions.” No matter how you look at it, his flow will challenge you and command your attention.
Songs like Case Closed and Heavyweight showcase Tonedeff's gift for rapid-fire, warp speed raps. He said in an interview that he learned to rap so quickly while growing up in Miami. The music of that time had a high BPM's, and he learned to keep up with the beat of the songs while freestyling.
Masochist and Loyal are songs that focus much more heavily on the depth of lyrics. He still spits very quickly and fluidly, but the results are intended to be thought provoking. Masochist is a foray into the human psyche, one that realizes our tendency to do things our own way despite consequences that aren't desirable. It's easy to relate to because not one of us is insulated from the decisions that we make, and our subsequent reservations about them later.
Then there's Porcelain. It comes in with harmonized singing, a deep bass line, and lush piano accompaniment. Tonedeff sings, raps, and broods his way through a tale that most young men can remember experiencing. It is emotional, and nostalgic. The listener finds themselves at rapt attention because of the astounding sincerity portrayed through the music. Perhaps the best part of this track is the fact that the lyrics actually make sense from beginning to end. He doesn't just throw lines in to rhyme, but wrote the lyrics in an intellectually cohesive way. The good points of this album are so high, that it makes the low points eminently conspicuous.
Tonedeff's lyrics border on juvenile from time to time as evidenced on Pervert and Issawn. And the cameos on the album, albeit few, don't fit. Quotables is a song that could have easily ended up on a mixtape, and the inclusion of it in Archetype doesn't make sense. The major flaw of this album doesn't lie in the lyricism, or cameos. It comes from the lack of cohesion. One can't help but feel like every track on this album was intended to showcase each of Tonedeff's talents. After you pick your jaw up off of the floor, and listen to this album a few times, you start to see that his sheer talent is on display more than cohesiveness of vision.
With Archetype, we find that Tonedeff certainly has the archetypal flow for a rapper. No line seems rushed which is particularly astounding due to just how fast he goes. Of course, with an album title like Archetype, there is bombast abound. His confidence in his flow is a hindrance from time to time because the flow often takes a front seat. This leaves other parts of the album feeling neglected, but his passion is so palpable that it carries him through. Tonedeff is an emotional, brilliant, and talented rapper. Hopefully his next release will see him focus on creating a cohesive, mature album. Either way, Archetype is a worthwhile listen.