A.S.H.E.S. the CHOSEN – ID, Ego, Superego – Album Review
First of all, let me just say, as far as writing goes, that’s the most amount of work you can possibly do in typing out an artist’s name…captials, periods, acronyms…take it easy on this old guy, I’m just waking up and can’t conceive of how I could get through this particular review without a mistake in punctuation.
There’s a lot at work here. With the combination of some well-mined-out sample use that even stumps me in a couple places, there are a lot of great hooks infused with some truly innovative choices in sound. Right as it starts out into the first chorus in the opening track “50 Ways,” you get a perfectly placed clip from Paul Simon’s brilliant track “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover;” which not even being a Paul Simon fan for the most part, you can’t deny that this is one of the best songs ever written. Using a song of that caliber can always be a risk, but it pays off completely here for A.S.H.E.S. as he demonstrates excellent skills and storytelling right away on ID, Ego, Superego.
“Never Let’Em Break You Down,” has a great bump & flow to it…I’m not completely sure about where the sample comes from here. It’s a very small, repeated clip…I’m my head I think it’s actually James Taylor’s “You’ve Got A Friend,” but IS it? Took me a couple listens to be 100% sure, if you catch the intro of the track you’ll never miss it; but again find myself impressed with the production on the A.S.H.E.S. album here and the ability to mix the old with the new in a completely relevant way that listeners are guaranteed to enjoy. A.S.H.E.S. flows through the mic with a determined, menacing and committed tone; like you can hear the ‘make or break’ moment of his life has been about pushing record and getting these songs on wax. “Dear Hip Hop,” is a perfect example of that…a true ode to the genre itself and what it all means to this gifted lyricist.
When you listen to the way he spits the rhymes on “No Apologies,” it becomes impossible to deny the talent of A.S.H.E.S. the CHOSEN as he puts his natural skills and abilities to work here. This cut is a definite highlight on what’s already been a solid album, but the conviction and flow on this track are intense enough to make even the strongest haters show love. On this cut, you get some real insight into the determined nature of A.S.H.E.S. as he rhymes about his career, life and never-give-up attitude.
Coming from Seattle, my home-away-from-home, he often uses a backing band known as April 12th to create the innovative and well-thought-out beats behind the rhymes. Much credit to the music here; the dramatics and dynamics in the sounds on these tracks are perfectly matched to the emotion and tone from A.S.H.E.S. coming back over the mic. “Tears In Your Eyes,” is a wicked example with a bright & sweet chorus juxtaposed against the harsh realities of the story behind this track. Diving deep into personal experiences and the darker moments of his life; he’s definitely not afraid to be real with us all on ID, Ego, Superego. Again – you’re going to find me applauding that decision every time; his complete lack of pretense makes this album thoroughly enjoyable to listen to.
Huge fan of the rhythm, flow and samples you can find on “Touch The Sky,” another real highlight on this album for me personally. There really is something about the way that A.S.H.E.S. approaches the mic that really comes across as confident…not ENTITLED…confident. There’s a huge difference there, and one that divides many styles within the hip-hop & rap genres. While half of the genres most famous artists would simply EXPECT you to come along for the ride on any given song, A.S.H.E.S. knows you have to WANT to be there with him; but better yet, on tracks like “Touch The Sky,” he gives you every reason to do just that. Something about his demeanor and approach to the mic…just has me rooting for this guy to find the success his talents deserve.
“A text message from my momma; like I need that shit,” is a line you’ll hear on “Pound Cake Freestyle,” another personal story from A.S.H.E.S. and one I found I could certainly relate to myself. It’s the holiday season…my mother and I haven’t spoken to each other in over two years now, but I’ll be damned if I could go through a special event from any point in the year without some sort of an explosive message or text message reminding me about just what a shitheel I am…or have been…doesn’t even matter anymore. You can hear the impact and weight of this similar situation that A.S.H.E.S. has gone through, and you can also hear the decisive action he’s taken to drive himself forward and not become lost in it all as he embraces his talent and breaks through.
I’ll totally admit…it would be REALLY tough to not love the final track, “Tennis Court Freestyle.” If you weren’t already hooked on the sound and tone of what A.S.H.E.S. the CHOSEN has put down on this record, well…what can I say…smart, smart play by adding in a Lorde sample into this last cut. YOU all love Lorde’s voice just as much as I do…if you can’t admit it, you need to want more for yourself. This is a perfect last track, bringing it full circle from the old-school to new-school throughout the entire life-cycle and pulse of this album.
Seems to me, that’s where the real strengths are here on ID, Ego, Superego…there’s a real talent for blending the old & new. The result? Ten tracks that are absolutely worth repeated listens; this is an artist who is ready to take charge of their moment and not afraid to be real every step along the way.
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