When you hear “Charleston, South Carolina” what images pop into your head? Tourists, crappy drivers, beaches, douchebags getting kneed by Jim Cantore, a gaggle of douchbags on TV? Who knows? Probably the last thought on your mind was “underground rap scene.” Believe it or not, Charleston does have one. It’s definitely not as prominent as places like Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, or New York City, but you can pretty much guess in all areas of the world, if people have access to rap and Hip Hop culture, there will definitely be some cats that want to spit rhymes. (However, most rap that I’ve been hearing lately doesn’t have rhyming at all… or any word play whatsoever. It’s just a bastardization of once was, but that’s a different post all together.)
You can guess when blogger, photographer, street wear designer, and all around just nice dude Dave Curry (He hooked me up with a few stickers when everyone else was afraid of me wearing the Borderlands Psycho Mask.) came out with a mixtape, I’d definitely be down for a listen.
First thing that anyone will notice is that the track names are all in kanji or untitled. To me this is pretty compelling. For one, I have no idea what the track title is, so I can’t just prejudge the track into thinking it’s going to be the same old rap that I hear every time I turn on the radio. I’ve got to listen to it with an open mind to understand why Curry chose to put the tracks on that he did. Also, the few times that I’ve ran into Dave, I know he’s a huge anime fan and has a huge understanding of Asian culture. To me, this is fitting.
Well in the opening track titled, “石 feat Montgomery” in the first verse it openly talks about Majin Buu. So, I’m easily going to get hooked if there are more Dragon Ball Z references in this mixtape. The track itself has kind of airy synths and overall good flow.
Track two “知らぬが仏です feat Illadell” has a kung-fu inspired break that is reminiscent of pretty much every Wu-Tang album. So I’m digging that.
Track three “スクロール feat King Steve” actually has some good verses and flows, but the actual music on it, I feel, holds the track down a bit. I’m sure it’s personal preference on this track. It just reminds me too much of what’s out today. And well, I specialize more and relate more to the old school rap. If there are other people out there who are listening to this mixtape, speak up! What are you hearing in this track that I’m not?
Track four “宇宙 feat Kit Mandeville” I had a hard time hearing the female vocalist on the track. It sounded like the sound levels where clipping like crazy. I really hope that this was caused by the uploading by SoundCloud and not the actual finished track. I don’t think I have heard a female rapper from South Carolina, let alone from the Charleston area. So I’m kind of bummed that I really can’t hear the vocals on this track that well.
Track five is an untitled interlude track. Kind of reminds me of the Halloween sound effects albums that I always seem to collect.
Track six “宇宙” is a very airy track with vocals that are echoed by a decay that is about a second until it completely fades. While normally, This would be kind of annoying it actually is rather cool and not something I would normally hear on a lot of mixtapes. It’s vibe causes you to become very reflective and it reminds me if I was actually hearing some of the poetry that I would hear off of a Last Poets album.
Track seven “無 (ft Khari)” starts with flying punches and kicks. Goes into a flow that is actually really good. The music itself is fitting for the mixtape. The lyrics are good and I particularly dig how there’s a reference to the “Cinnamon Challenge” and the Street Fighter reference of “New Challenger when I hit the Start Button.”
Track eight is another “Untitled” track. The track contains music and sound effects from a movie. (I’m assuming.) From what? I don’t know. Now I don’t know if this is intentional or not, but from a scratch point of view, this is an excellent scratch tone track! You can transform for days on this tone. If you’re slick enough, you would be able to juggle the punch and kicks as well.
The final track “最高 feat Matt Monday & Genius Mcfly” starts off with some more Dragon Ball Z references. After you get passed the “Fuck Yo Bitch” part the track is banging! It’s great to see that young cats still are making references to Muhammad Ali. Well, in this track, Cassius Clay. And in the same breath reference both Katniss Everdeen and Goku. Definitely some great rhymes on this track and I’m really feeling it.
Overall, this is a great mixtape! It’s not something that I expected from Charleston’s rap scene. In fact, I really didn’t know what to expect when I sat down and really listened to it. There is a lot of variety on it and features artists that I don’t know. That’s what I look for on a mixtape. The theme is consistent throughout the whole production. Is it worth the time to listen to Owl Eyes pt. 2? Of course it is! I’d listen to it again. If you were to ask me if there is anything wrong with the mixtape, then I’d have to say that the concerns that I have are all personal in nature. I’m out of touch with Charleston’s rap scene. I’ll admit it. This is because I’ve been out of DJing for a while. I don’t expect to just jump back in the game and have the same credit as I had before. When I hear a mixtape like this, it’s all new to me and I can’t form a strong opinion on it because I have nothing else from Charleston to compare and contrast to it. I hope to change that. With the help from The Fix, I’m in a unique position to help the artists of Charleston be heard on a different medium and be able to possibly expose them to a new audience. I’m hoping that when you finish reading this that you are the adventurous type and decide to give this mixtape a listen to. Yes, it’s underground stuff. Yes, it’s raw. Yes, there are a few technical errors with a few of the recordings. But most importantly, the mixtape is real, and it’s a hell of a lot better than the crap that’s climbing the Top 40 right now.