Review Summary: Dasdat CartierCartier Sims
, Guy Harrison, and the Backhand Fam
probably sound foreign to almost all of the music aficionados that populate this site. However, those names and other Backhand Fam
affiliates need no introduction to the students of Syracuse University. The two MCs, Sims and Harrison, started to take over the college scene late last year with the release of their collaborative self titled mixtape through their group, Backhand Fam
. Backhand Fam
includes the two MCs and a few in-house producers, most notably fellow Syracuse freshman MiGGZ. After the initial mixtape, Guy Harrison’s second solo mixtape, "The Deadline", and a generous number of college shows (including one with none other than Mac Miller
), the Backhand Fam
MC, Cartier Sims
, went ahead and finally released his first solo mixtape.
From the first track of "Cartier Chronicles", one thing is blatantly clear: the beats are huge. The intro instrumental track, produced by MiGGZ (easily the most innovative and arguably talented producer on the mixtape) is eerie, haunting, and sounds downright inspired. From the chilling sample of female vocals that seem to just be harmonizing, to the spacey clap and beeps reminiscent of Boards of Canada
, this 2 minute instrumental passes by seamlessly into the first real song, ‘You Oughtta Know’. In the same vein as the intro track, the concluding track, ‘Guess What’, also sports incredibly innovative vocal samples that infinitely increase the track’s appeal. If one were looking through this mixtape simply for the beats, I would, without hesitation, recommend any track with the name MiGGZ credited to it. Whether it’s the simplicity of ‘Passaway’, the slickness of ‘Fam Matters’, or the bounce of ‘Shady Flow’, MiGGZ’s beats are always on point. But that’s not to say the other tracks don’t shine as well. The second single, ‘In The Clouds’, featuring Milan Flynch on the hook, without a doubt the best hook on the mixtape, , is extremely well crafted and showcases great hip-hop sensibility and of course, Cartier’s charm.
Charm and flow are where Cartier truly shines. On Backhand Fam
, Cartier’s distinct flow earned him recognition as Guy Harrison’s equal, and essentially, this mixtape is a glorification of that style. His smooth slur and relaxed drawl may seem contrived but truly do come off as genuine, wholesome, and pure fun. This flow is coupled with his charm, evident on tracks such as the two singles, ‘In The Clouds’ and ‘Shady Flow’, where he seems to mess up but adds quips like “hahah, f*cked that up, keep it rolling though”, put a smile on the listener’s face and don’t detract too much from the progression of the track. There is only one guest appearance on this mixtape, aside from Milan Flynch, and that is none other than fellow Backhand affiliate Guy Harrison. Cartier and Guy, accompanied with favored Backhand producer MiGGZ, team up on ‘Fam Matters’ to deliver a slick Fam anthem, with a raw mock hook that goes “hands up/hands up/if you ***ing with my family hands up”. Cartier’s style increases the enjoyment of every track, but this might also be where the mixtape’s flaws lie.
Although Cartier’s lyrical content, ranging from his parents to his blown up social life, is quite a bit less artificial than the lines found on Guy Harrison’s mixtape, his enunciation, lack of any other emotion aside from #SWAG, and the imposing nature of some of the beats, hinder the mixtape from being a truly cohesive listen. At times it seems as if the beats just might be a little too much for this young MC, who tries his best to just shrug it off and keep on flowing at a relaxed pace. It’s dangerous when the listener starts to wish he or she could just listen to the beats instead of having to drudge through the rhymes first. Thankfully, these moments are rare, and Cartier is able to keep our attention for the most part with stylized delivery, wordplay, and charisma.
‘Introduction (prod. MiGGZ)’
‘In The Clouds (Feat. Milan Flynch) (prod. P-Note)’
‘Fam Matters (feat. Guy Harrison) (prod. MiGGZ)’
‘Guess What" (prod. MiGGZ)’