Brandon Hagler IV’s dedication to the craft shows on many levels throughout the single Welcome to Tape. From the offset, the music takes its time to kick into gear – the soundscape lays out a fragment of an idea first, a few flickers of humanity, details that draw intrigue; rather than something that sees the rapper burst into his bars from the second you press play.
After this, a jazz-infused, classically optimistic and slightly vintage ambiance settles in, adding further touches of character and setting up a scene and vibe that are easy to get into. Then comes the vocal performance, the lyricism, the personality and drive at the heart of the project.
Brandon holds nothing back when he raps, but rather than this meaning you get some unedited, unapologetic outpouring – the likes of which sometimes lean in the direction of shouting or even screaming to draw an audience – in this case, it means that you hear him for who he is. You hear that confidence and that depth, and you naturally pick up on the talent and dedication that runs throughout his writing.
The sound of Hagler IV’s voice has a refreshing and quite calming, perhaps nostalgic tone and feel to it. His flow fits the vibe of this backing track perfectly, so much so that the music and the leading voice walk hand in hand throughout the experience – as opposed to the voice merely sitting on top of something unrelated or disconnected.
In addition to all of this, the subject matter here is thoughtful, intelligent, reflective in a deep way and inspiring to listen to. There’s something real being pondered throughout, the heavier content intertwined with that which is lighter and more laid back. It works well, and it holds up throughout. I look forward to the longer project.