Review Summary: Trumpets, sound-off.
Writing about music has pretty much exhausted itself to the point of near-collapse. How many times can critics spin yarns about “heavy riffs”, or how “chill” something is or how hard the beats on the latest blog-rap byproduct are. Music criticism seems to be thriving on life support because no one can seem to come up with more than 2 or 3 paragraphs containing cliff-notes versions of the writer’s critique on the record. And this is where my problem lies. I’ve tried writing a review for this, even in an omniscient third-person point of view but I’m finding it impossible. I get two or three paragraphs in and I get bored. But what does any of this have to do with Seven Trumpets Sound
by New-York rap revivalist June Marx? Pretty much everything.
This album is a pain to write about. I’ve listened to it 6 times, absorbed every hard-hitting beat, rhythmically sound verse, and every dark, atmospheric vibe. Three drafts were written but nothing seemed to go as hard and gritty as the songs on Seven Trumpets
. This isn’t a case of writer’s block so much as its getting hard to write about rap music, especially that of the east-coast throwback ilk. I feel like I’ve heard it all before: the same gritty sounds of the streets, the same lyricism-for-lyricism’s sake, and the same hardcore, tough guy posturing. But on the next listen something clicked, and I am being able to write about June Marx’s latest attack on rap music, full of metaphoric wordplay and New York rap vernacular. So how does Seven Trumpet Sound
fare in a year of gargantuan juggernaut hip-hop albums?
Surprisingly well, actually. Granted, it’s no Cancer 4 Cure
or R.A.P. Music
but then again nothing that came out this year could actually compare to those two in terms of the hip-hop musical world. What we do get though, is a surprisingly solid record that holds its own against many of the other mix-tapes that have dropped. It’s another smorgasbord of songs in a long line of hungry New York rappers. It’s also pretty dense; it comes in at 25 tracks, holding its own length-wise with some of the longest Lil B albums. However, it does have standout cuts so that the whole thing doesn’t blend together in a void of sound-waves and bassy drum-beats. Take “Metal Gear” for instance, which I’m sure is a reference to the solid videogame series; it has a bouncy trumpet beat that immediately grabs your attention and then it pulls you in further with a solid Marx verse and an even better Reef the Lost Cauze verse. Or even “Lifestream” which mellows things out with atmospheric, eastern-sounding music juxtaposing over those hard bass-and-kick drums leaving the listener with a vibe equivalent to that of walking around the streets on a misty day.
What gets me about Seven Trumpet Sound
is how the minimalist-philosophy of previous records was dialed back to allow a full-on cohesive attack between beats and rapping. No longer do the rapping and the beats alternate between stand-out points. The record on a whole has adopted the latest idea in rap that everything has to come together and sound just right. Every verse crafted to as close to perfectionism as it can. But this also at the same time hurts the record. On the third successive listen things start to blend together and sound like background music. Even some of the guest verses feel cookie-cutter and just sit there meandering. But like any good rap record, it powers through these magnificently.
Whilst not perfect, Seven Trumpet Sound
easily holds a stand in the ever-evolving battleground of 2012 hip-hop music. 3.5/5