Review Summary: The water is rather cold, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Hip-Hop today is somewhat intoxicated with booming production, sticky beats, muddy delivery and brattish lyrics; or on the other hand, an overly obsessive depression-galore. It seems that that’s what is in. And I am always in a mood for a certain celebration when something new and challenging appears. Porter Ray, while undeniably flowing through the streams of accessibility, managed to create just that novel direction.
uses pretty much the exact same tricks everyone else uses nowadays. Its lyrics are an ode to typicality, but it’d be a lie to omit the fact that it can strike with poignancy and soul. Porter is also apparently a master of balance, for his raw, often passive aggressive delivery keeps the overall sound from falling into the pit of apathy.
It may not start off all that confidently. Certainly the song “Waves” is a solid track, but its rather drab atmosphere fails to set up just what exactly you are about to experience. That, after a couple of quite intriguing, but not particularly outstanding, tracks, only comes with the real first face slapper that is “Past Life”. That is the song that truly displays Porter’s lyrical abilities and his flow’s synergy with the music’s subtlety and dreamy softness.
Porter Ray isn’t shy of striking the reality at his listeners. At the end of “Arithmetic” he plays a real audio of (I assume) Skype conversation with his girlfriend (or a wife; details unclear) with their daughter playing at the background. It is moments like these that truly hit hard. They speak to an everyday struggling person. They converse on topics of personal identity, personal loss and depersonalisation in the vast beast of a world we live in, amidst mundanity of life and dreams of greatness each has, but none achieves. Porter Ray isn’t frustrated, he doesn’t try to criticise things around him, and he doesn’t pretend to be a voice of the people. He simply tells his story and the stories of others from a perspective of an observer. And that makes it so much more powerful.
However, the biggest shade on the record is thrown by its impeccable production. It is meditative, gentle and almost levitating in how ethereal the general aesthetic is. It is symphonically sophisticated, hermetically harmonic and vigorously vague. It vociferously positions its styles on the verge of absolute quietness and laid-back nonchalance. The album is easy to relax to and it never lets Porter and guests’ deliveries turn it too aggressive and in-your-face or let the subtle music to drag it over the border of drabness. It’s a perfectly balanced and mature effort with grounded themes and memorable song writing. It is a wonderfully crafted work of music that I am sure can push Porter Ray further into the higher echelons of modern rappers.