Review Summary: Fuck Tarantino, this is Cancun/Told you, girl, that's me, that's you
Paul Thompson’s “Who’s Afraid of Rashida Jones"’
Isis & Anubis, or Why Is The Cardinal Just Standing There"
From what I’ve read so far, this is by far the most underrated song. Literally a perfect intro. What makes Isis an incredible track is that fact that it encompasses everything the album is about and many of it’s allusions/metaphors (from gold, money, sex, drugs and narcissism to even other tracks such as Washed Up) while introducing the listener to a seemingly revamped Paul Thompson. Because, for all intents and purposes, this version of PT seems much more refined, comfortable, and collected than the one I heard on October. The double time flow, which I’ve never heard from him, is godly and genuinely exciting, and the delivery (especially on the “relax” and “take the edge off” lines) seem like they’re second nature at this point. If this wasn’t enough, the production, as we’ll come to see in the next 30 mins, is FANTASTIC. This one track is filled with great samples used as great openers (“It’s time to die!”) and perfect transitions (“Do not stand on my grave and weep”, “Men shall seek death and shall not find it”) and whenever the beat drops, like right before the final few bars, it is nothing short of professional.
I still can’t figure out if I like this or Red Birds more as a single. Seemingly about cocaine, unhealthy codependency, nostalgia and loneliness, Washed Up is perfect follow up to the intro as it builds on many of the same themes but manages to showcase even more creativity with the singing on “You got a stain on your hand I tried taking it off/I swear I know your name, I’m sorry I’m nodding off” and the wonderful chorus (which is easily one of the highlights of the album and PT needs to build off these new strengths, such as variety in delivery and accessible yet intricate writing). Now while everything about this song is sonically smooth, relaxing and calm, the writing is still top notch. From the descriptions of the night long session filled with tiny details which are the key to tight storytelling, to the metaphors and symbolism (the ink which I THINK is about cocaine again, writing on her back, clean/dirty, the dust/halo ring, etc) writing is definitely not of concern.
This is the song that took the longest for me to make up my mind as to why I didn’t like it as much as the previous two. The writing was strong as ever, painting the picture of yet another dysfunctional “companionship”, filled with various forms of dependancies and insecurities, but something about the subtle production and the chorus, which is completely suitable and not really a bad choice by any means, doesn’t sit too well with me - makes the track overall somewhat passive and forgettable, especially with the surrounding tracks being so well done. The fact that it does end on a great note with the that missing 16th line (even tho I have NO idea what it means) does make me smile.
On the Occasion of Kate Moss’s 39th Birthday
To be honest, I just love the “We Kate Moss wit it” at the end of the track and I’m waiting for an extended outro version. But building up to that, are two great verses about insecurities, superficiality, materialism, and being comfortable with oneself while being surrounded by and being a part of all of the above. The production is smooth but gritty and fits the whole tone of a quick passing showcase of the new and improved delivery and presence of PT (being the shortest track on the album).
Taylor Misiak Interlude
Despite the great production that compliments the Hepburn interview well and builds up perfectly for PT's verse, the fantastic
verse that further proves that PT no longer has a problem with flowing or delivery, and the fact that the interview itself is fitting and insightful, this track just too long in retrospect. Caught up in the album, I would never skip it, because it fits perfectly. But as a singular track the length of the interview and the novelty wearing off on repeated listens will definitely push this more into the skippable category. The stuttering also is kind of unsettling for me, makes me feel uncomfortable to be completely honest, but that isn’t a big deal. It still works incredibly well in context and as a prelude to Wolf Mask (the GOAT).
The GOAT track. From the badass sample in the intro to the completely unique and and energetic flows on PT’s three verses (walk in like..NICE WATCHES) absolutely overshadow the guest verse, which isn’t even bad by any means. This amount of control of the track and enthusiasm is what’s missing from a number of earlier PT tracks and even a few on this tape (such as Stiletto Weather). But I understand the need to be restrained on previous tracks, especially on this tape, so that the energy on a psychotic track (titled “Wolf Mask” for ***s sake) stands out. Speaking about the instrumental, it is without question my favorite thing about this album. It’s unique, creative, fitting, and just mirrors the verses without any reservations. It works and I don’t see how it is overbearing or distracting in anyway since both artists manage to match the tempo expertly. If anything drags the track down, it’s the guest verse. GATSBY (an awesome name) has good delivery and a great voice but at times tried to fit an Eminem level of syllables in a single line. Psychosis and paranoia seemingly being the theme of this track, the fast flows work, but somewhere around the “tribulations/civilizations” rhyme I started to loose interest in his verse. But either way:
Phone Plan as a Sedative
Least favorite track on the tape and that’s largely due to the production. Which is weird because production was arguably the best thing about this album up until now. The beat and sample are great as usual, but that clap or whatever it is in the background is WAY too loud for my ears. Listening to this song with headphones in, if it’s anything more than slightly
loud, is a chore because of how grating the claps become. Which is annoying because all other tracks sounds great when they’re blaring through the headphones. On top of all this, Co$$ delivers probably the weakest guest verse/verse in general on the album. I love his voice and his flow is passable but nothing about the actual verse feels like it fits. And to make matters worse, PT’s verse, even though it isn’t bad at all, is too layered and comes off as a simple, uninspired verse. The explanations of the lyrics definitely opened my eyes to a lot of things that went over my head, but the fact still remains that the points being about about heaven on earth, finding peace, etc. are all difficult to ascertain by yourself. And with the track already unimpressive by the time PT’s verse begins, it isn’t really inviting itself to be deciphered(I still love the reference to I Play Piano). Best thing about this track are the samples, and it will most likely be skipped.
This took a few listens to grow on me, but it’s fantastic. Another unique flow and literally perfect
samples (“From the polo fleece, to the jesus piece. I got family in high places like Jesus niece”). Continuing use of the allusions to gold are apparent (waiting for rapgenius to confirm!) while being a little more self aware and less about the overall theme of the album this time around. I love the second instrumental and the beat switch in general, but I think it could’ve been done a bit better. Just as I start to get really into the song, and vibe to the sample/beat, the beat cuts away and I’m expecting for some a cappella showcase of rapping. Instead it’s two lines and then a completely different beat for the outro. I think if the cutaway was used for some rapping, just a few more lines so that the spotlight would be completely on the rapping for once, it would’ve been perfect. As it is though, this is might not be in my top tier of songs but is definitely one of my favorites.
Lobbyists, Pt. 2
Great ***ing track that starts off with Zell delivering a variation of one of the schemes from Public Transit before transitioning into a incredibly professional and fantastic sing-song delivery. The replay value and accessibility that resonates from Zell’s verse is a great indicator that he’s 100% ready to break out and dedicate his life to music. The verse is tightly written, with metaphors as well as real life troubles and plights intertwining in a fashion that takes attention away from the more complex bars and simply allows the delivery and emotion to calm the listener. Might be my favorite verse on the album. The hook, with its dual vocals and double time, is definitely catchy and up there with the Washed Up hook. To keep the song going strong, the slight beat change during the sample is fantastic. And then, when I think that PT can’t keep up or deliver a verse to match Z’s (err I mean Zell’s ") verse, he comes through with a perfect verse of his own that is genuinely good/one of his best verses on the album. The “is that like, is that life, is that lifeless” part might be favorite part of the song. However, when two close associates like this work together on a great song, comparing them is unavoidable. And although no one got renegaded, I think Zell did a better job on this track. From the more varied flow, to the better delivery, presence and enunciation (all of which PT has undeniably improved on), Zell simply shows that he’s a step or two closer to perfecting his craft than PT. His verse still manages to be great at storytelling, and continues the gold symbolism, this time in it’s more literal interpretation of rings, marriage and being tied down.
“Another Summer In A Winter Town”
A short, somber, simple closer to the album that encompasses the previous notions of superficiality, drugs, sex, love, hate, and codependency. The delivery in the few few bars (back in black out back offffffff it, dont panic though I’m offff it) is perfect although it falters a bit for the closing lines which is a shame. The different allusions to cocaine aren’t overdone, obvious or corny - like they could easily have been - but instead work with the setting (August, time running out) to make the title of summer in a winter town really poignant. Now while I love the sample that fades the album out, I don't really understand it’s significance. But it is what it is.
9.15 rounded to: