The smooth and confident sound of Tomahawk reignites in collaboration with Quintin Brand for this latest album release. Offering up a series of energetic and multi-layered RnB-meets-hip hop tracks, Mixed Emotions deals with precisely what the title promises, yet it does so in a decidedly upbeat and hypnotically charming manner.
DISTRACTED kicks things off and leads with a relentless vocal outpouring and a quickly likable groove. Fine production lets the music stand tall, as it should – a strong mix means you can turn this up and engage with the energy of each soundscape as much as the personality and storylines at the heart of the writing.
One Night Ft Coughdrop [prod. guala beatz] follows on with a certain familiarity – a heavy bass-line reverberates as the backbone of the track, meanwhile a more optimistic aura and a pair of somewhat more playful vocals emerge. Already there’s a strong balance between eclecticism and relevance – those Mixed Emotions remain at the forefront, ranging from melancholic to excited; meanwhile both Brand and Tomahawk perform with natural ease yet barely pausing to take a breath.
Night Lights [prod. wedreaming] mellows things out quite suddenly, calming things down – lyrically accepting self-error and musically raining down with a certain dreamlike delicacy. No Hook Island [prod. dak] then picks up the pace, bringing back the intense bounce of a thick bass-line and a contrastingly light and free-flowing vocal line. The rise and fall of the melody feels all at once familiar and fresh – vocal clarity adds something of a pop-punk aura to the sound of that first voice, branching things out further and really helping give this project a unique vibe.
No Hook Island Part 2 [prod. dak] stands out by a mile for its striking introduction, performance-based with a clear bit of scene-setting, and a mildly tropical riff to top it off. Soon enough the sound of today’s hip hop landscape joins forces with this creatively free approach, making for a track that hits hard yet feels strangely gentle at the same time; partly peaceful yet clearly manic and rightfully lost within its own intention and concept. Brand’s verse kicks in with an appropriate intensity and pace.
Pre.scrip.tions [prod. bruferr] is another highlight for similar reasons – you don’t expect the guitar riff, the space, the quiet, and subsequently that Lil Peep-style outpouring of melody and emotion opens up a whole new corner of the project. The lyrics hold tight to your attention, the music suits the mood of these words, and the performances strike as completely genuine and authentically connected to the bars at play throughout.
Towards the end, Lethal Weapon [prod.byalif] proves a further testament to the duo’s new-found creative freedom as a unit. That guitar riff brings a slightly medieval tone with it, then you get an equally impressive and slowly intensifying track that gathers momentum brilliantly.
In all honesty, this album gets better as it progresses – distinctly so. The concepts and the moods set by the music intrigue and appeal with each new track, and as this process happens it makes you feel a stronger connection to it all; thus increasing the likelihood of you actually returning to listen through the full playlist once more, just to make sure you didn’t miss anything. Lethal Weapon is a personal favourite in hindsight, the flow and the passion in every element is completely immersive and addictive to listen to.
Back Shots [prod. boyfifty] brings the album to a fairly gentle and honest finish – those apologies again, admittance of error; the realness is incredibly appealing right now, which is just one of many reasons why Tomahawk and Quintin Brand alike can be known to offer something refreshing and undoubtedly welcome in contemporary hip hop. Absolutely worth a download and a few streams at volume as the long nights flow through.