Review Summary: "Trip" being the most important word in the album title.
Alexander Spit is quite the curiosity. The fact that he grew up in California, spent the last few years living in LA and putting out self-released mixtapes--then went on to sign with NYC label Deacon to release his first official album--works as the first signifier of how hard it is to put a box around his particular sound. There are certain hallmarks of both coasts in his sound, and it's all wrapped in a hazy, drugged-out sheen. These elements combine to create an album with its own unique sound, and one which consistently works.
Opening track "Black Magic On Blue Magic" provides a foundation for the entire album, with distorted horns overlaying a glitchy beat and bass-line, with lyrics like "I'm so zen when I'm blown. My dream is oh so American and my rise to it is so Rome" and "I watch your eyes roll to the back of your skull so that powder must be pure" painting the debauched world in which this album (and Spit) lives. However, follow-up track "Ride" shifts gears quite a bit, opening with what sounds like an old Disney song, which Spit then morphs into a distorted, RZA-like soul-sounding sample that pushes the song forward, ending with his declaration that he writes "classics, not hits". It's a bold, confident statement, but Spit backs it up by showing the confidence of a veteran throughout the album.
Spit's flow itself is unique, with an overlaying effect that makes his vocals syrupy, which he then juxtaposes with rapid-fire delivery that's somewhat jarring at points, but always in a good way. However, where the album really manages to stand out is on the production, which Spit handled on every track. As I stated earlier, drugs play a huge role in the album, and his borderline psychedelic production enhances this greatly. A great example of this is on the title track, (which, appropriately enough, has a video that is a straight homage to Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas
) which paints a vivid story of an acid trip, and is backed by a dark, menacing beat that borders on disorienting. "Getaway Car" is full of warped backing vocals and these almost hidden bleeps and bloops, which sound excellent on a good set of headphones. And album closer, "Death by 27", sounds as though it were recorded underwater.
If I had any complaints or criticisms to level at the album, it would be the fact that--aside from "NRML Ave"--the interludes are mainly pointless. The next thing, which isn't really as much a complaint as it is an observation, is that when he brings in guests he tends to get outshined. However, when the guests include E-40, Exquire, and Action Bronson (on the absolutely phenomenal "Artesia"), it's not really something you can fault Spit for. And with the potential he shows on this debut, he may well show up his guests the next time. Oh, and possibly write that "classic" he was talking about.