(O.E. Entertainment) www.orionhiphop.com
Gauging from his work with Elastic Bond I could tell that Orion is the type of rapper who "gets it." There is something innately eclectic from this young man that is refreshing and exciting and in his debut solo effort it comes through like an eighteen wheeler on acid. Wow. To put it short, I'm floored by the level of awesomeness on this disc. There are elements of traditional Cuban music and Caribbean Diaspora sounds mingled with a solid education on hip-hop's past that make this a serious listen while never sacrificing the raw party element. It's a very mature album and he's set an extremely high bar to measure against for future endeavors. Wow, again. These twenty-two tracks (of which three are skits that actually enhance the narrative nature of the work with poetry and family recollections) are heavy on the biographical, executed professionally and show a construction know-how that has taken others years to develop.
I do not want to go into the usual particulars of breaking down the tracks and inadvertently wind-up doing a disservice to the music, but the opening quad of "The Pursuit," "Call Me O," "Neva Had A" and "Hialeah Home Grown" does a solid job of establishing Orion as field guide and expert to enjoying this album. The production values are attentive to the rhythm and flow with excellent keyboard and bass work grounding the tunes. There's some fun here too hinting at the many levels and aspects of living and loving in this grand city intertwined with the immigrant experience. And yet there is something positive about his rhymes that can be almost cynical in context but also hopeful via the bangers "The Circumstance" and "The Addiction" and the vicarious fantasy of "Dog Day Afternoon."
But where the work culminates and excels is in the closing track "Without You" which is a heartfelt and beautiful homage to the artist's mother, for whom the album is named. His energy and skill is solid throughout, he's flawless when delivering bilingually and the chameleon effect is almost unnoticeable. Great debut record. I can't wait for a follow-up!
The 90's RnB Mixtape Vol. 1
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DJ Manuvers is a busy man. Spinning all over town with some choice sets that dig deep into an understanding of music reserved for the well-versed and the nerdy collector types has guaranteed him club success and a number of sought-after releases. On this mixtape disc, he builds a nostalgic set of '90s R & B from the well-known to the non with tracks by Monica, Mary J. Blige, SWV, Adina Howard, Soul II Soul, Tony! Toni! Tone! and Portrait. While these all stand on their own, Manuvers tweaks the experience so there is something tiny and hidden in the background that kinda centers and guides the tracks as a group. This is a party record, a list for you to claim as your own the next time you get some people together, break out the beers, lower the lights and want to get your fuck on. This is a nice reminder that the 90's weren't really that bad after-all.