Simple yet creative soundscapes are all that backs up the energetic and clear-cut lyricism that pours through as Cedar Rapids fills the room. T-Staxx ceases the moment and offers up a classic attitude and a flow that’s rhythmically satisfying right the way through.
Opener Mobbin’ is all of this, spacious and hard-hitting but in a musically minimalist way. BammBamm’s feature is perfectly in tune with the vibe and the manic aura, plus the hook – in unison with the music – grabs you quickly and settles into to the contemporary hip hop landscape well. It’s a fairly strong beginning but this EP undoubtedly gets better as it progresses.
Draft Day (Feat. Super Rich) is a thoroughly eclectic and musically complex track with a slightly more focused and interesting subject matter. There’s still an air of motivational vibrancy to the whole thing – a theme you draw from throughout the project. However, the details start to get a little more revealing and personal to the characters involved, and the instrumental melody helps set the mood in the perfect way. There’s a hint of thoughtful melancholy that hits with an intense sense of awakening and suits the driven intention of the lyrics just right. By now you’re already used to the sound of T-Staxx’ voice, his subtly recognisable tone and the mildly theatrical or fun way he delivers his bars – particularly his hooks – is easy to pinpoint after a short while.
The EP’s title-track is a definite highlight, the melodic rap flow on top of this dreamlike beat is immediately striking and proves to be quite memorable. That key line I don’t ride the wave I ride the rapids is one that seems to encapsulate the whole project, making this an absolute stand-out from the EP.
Petty Song after this welcomes a hint of piano-led, organic musicianship – a simple loop that contrasts with the confident outpouring that follows; a contrast which works well in making sure you’re paying attention. That varied flow again has personality, this meeting between melody and rap, the way the artists toy with the very act of performance helps hold tight to your attention.
Black Panther sees an anthem-like vibe emerge, a vocal mix loaded with togetherness and carefree swagger. The rap flow reaches new heights and the music again contrasts with the playfulness by providing a melancholy, considerate mood. This is again one of the more memorable for its creatively chaotic hook and how impressive many of the bars prove to be. The latter half sees things grow more and more immersive and the whole thing is well worth a second listen just to take it all in.
Things take a turn for the far more emotional and reflective as Plenty Of Fish brings the project to a softly ambient finish. The music and the hook-melody and lyrics that kick things off create a totally different atmosphere than anything that came before. T-Staxx performs solo and reflects on love and life and money in a fairly refreshing way. There are hints of reality and humor subtly woven in, but for the most part the track gets you thinking, and that hook melody is brilliant – an absolute ear-worm at the final hurdle, with some notably original ideas at work.
You get a strong sense of identity on Plenty Of Fish, T-Staxx’ voice suits this kind of meandering style really well. The latter half of the track intensifies unexpectedly and helps cement the fact that this is possibly the best or at least the most interesting track on the EP. A great way to finish, showcasing another side to the artist both musically and in terms of his performance and lyrical outlook. Well worth a listen.