Ankur – Intermission – EP Review
STOKED to have this dude back on our pages! Last time around, Ankur supplied our speakers with an inspired set of tunes on his Shades EP & gave us every indication that quality, creativity, and innovation would continue to reign supreme throughout the music he might make in the years to follow. It was actually just back at the end of 2018 that we reviewed the Shades EP here at the homepage…makes me even happier to find out he’s back already so soon…I definitely have a ton of faith in this guy’s ability to create amazing music, and I believe Ankur gave us every reason to look forward to Intermission already through what he’s accomplished in the past. That being said…an artist like this, is always moving forward, always changing shape & sound, fluid like Ankur is a genuine part of the universe’s beautiful mechanics & moving parts, revealing breadcrumbs of hope, love, potential, and possibility through expressive, imaginative, and innovative sounds. Or at least that’s my theory – let’s find out if I’m right.
OKAY. NOT fair. How would anyone even have a chance of resisting the pull of the rhythm that glides us right into the music & melody on “Once Upon A Time?” Not that I really expected anything less than to be wowed by whatever Ankur might have come up with next since last hearing his music – but c’mon brother – you gotta give us at least a CHANCE of resisting, don’t ya? This is my own special way of saying he absolutely comes out crushing it on this first cut…that from the very first sounds you hear, you’ll be into Intermission and fully enjoying yourself from there on in til the very last moments of “Once Upon A Time.” It’s awesome to hear an artist you believe in live up to any expectations you might have or exceed them like Ankur immediately starts to do with this first cut on his brand-new record. Recalling memories and waxing nostalgically, Ankur creates vivid scenes in your mind through the imagery & thought he puts into his words…and for many of you out there, there’s an extremely good chance you’ll find yourself relating to a ton of what he raps about on “Once Upon A Time,” and the rest of the Intermission record when it comes right down to it. It’s conscious Hip-Hop…Ankur makes music that’s both cathartic and altruistic at the same time…helpful to himself by diving deep into the personal & bringing his feelings, thoughts, and emotions to the surface like he does…and helpful to the rest of us by being so unafraid to share what’s real. Strong hooks will quickly become the best of standards set upon Intermission…you’ll find’em happening from the lefts to the rights all throughout this record – props to the first ones we hear popping up in the chorus of “Once Upon A Time” – Ankur gets the energy & excitement flowin’ right from the get-go on Intermission…and you KNOW he’s got tons more in-store.
Over the course of six cuts, you’ll find four guest-stars in the mix – the first of which, is Arsenio Zheng, who adds his style & swagger to the hooks of “Arena” – dude’s got a great voice full of unique texture & tone that bring a ton to this second cut on Intermission. Ankur puts in one of my favorite performances on this record, pivoting and shifting off the dynamics in the music with precision and punch, bringing the words to life not just through the insightful imagery in his lyricism, but also enhanced through the way he spits’em into the mic. They both deserve a lot of credit…ultimately, so does the music here – “Arena” is continually captivating and quite the experience to listen to…the kind of song where you really feel like you’ve traveled right out of your own world and into some other place altogether, lost happily in the world of sound being created by Ankur & Arsenio. There’s more style & moves in this cut than you’ll find on the runway during fashion week…the flashy sound of “Arena” is straight designed to pull in the world with the strength of a black hole swallowing a star from the galaxy…irresistible sound soars through this seriously impressive cut from Intermission. You’ll find a lot of single-worthy potential throughout the material on this EP – but I’d be taking a hard look at this tune as the number one choice. Arsenio is off-the-charts fantastic, Ankur is clearly inspired, the words are as powerful as ever, the music is extraordinary, and the hooks…oh man…these HOOKS are just so incredibly exotic, charismatic, and almost gently tribal in their own way…like a melody once trapped inside, now organically finding its way out into the world where it belongs. Massively impressed by how thorough this entire track is…from the production to performance, writing to sound, “Arena” has vibrant color & flavor your ears will notice. To me, fueled by the stunning performance from Arsenio, they propel this song into becoming THE single on an album stocked full of single-worthy songs…that’s how much tangible uniqueness there is to “Arena” and how cunningly accessible this tune really ends up being to listen to…people will dig this.
There’s no doubt that each of these songs reach deep within and examine life, feelings, thoughts, emotions, and all the way these things interact within our hearts & minds – and one of the best examples you’ll find of just how boldly explorative and real these cuts from Intermission can be, is definitely “I Am” featuring Celia Burns. Delving into individuality and how that affects our relationships…how it impacts life & love…how we see each other, how we even see ourselves – “I Am” is a powerful tune that represents how willing Ankur is to be as real as possible, even if that means opening a vein full-on in pursuit of the art & his own integrity. You can feel the weight of this song immediately, even as the dreamy atmosphere of the strings comes soaring in with the delicate piano tones to start “I Am” – you can still feel what’s coming in this tune somehow…you know you’re in for a song that’s going to pack a punch of its own making – it may be tender & mild in sound, but lyrically, this tune can be a punch in the gut as Ankur and Celia twist & mix the emotions on display throughout this tune. As we already experienced with Arsenio, Ankur has made spectacular choices on who to bring into the fold and lend their talents to these tunes – Celia’s exceptional, all-around, and delivers a spot-on performance that’s a perfect match for the energy & atmosphere this track contains. Hooks are great and essentially bulletproof here once again…I’m sure those will catch a whole bunch of ears naturally – what I personally hope is that those ears continue to listen even closer and make sure they catch this emcees words…dude puts incredible effort into his rhythm & flow and never disappoints, straight-up.
I love the collaborative spirit of Ankur and how he’s reached out to so many artists to create really compelling material throughout Intermission…especially considering the high-degree of introspective lyricism you’ll find on this record…you’d almost assume he’d have gone through this whole EP fully solo by nature of the writing. Make no mistake – when he does go it alone like he did at the beginning of the record with “Once Upon A Time” and later on with “By Now” – he’s more than capable of creating equally high-caliber entertainment for your ears…the hooks he creates are just as strong as those you’ll hear from any of the guest appearances. So props to the man…it’s not every day that you find a rapper that can do this much justice to the Pop/R&B-inspired hooks being sung aloud as well…definitely an aspect of Ankur’s music that speaks strongly on behalf of his versatile talent & adaptable skills. You’ll hear he’s played this record really smart…he’ll easily prove on tracks like “By Now” that he has enough star power & pull to keep our ears stuffed with entertainment…and it’s in hearing how well those tracks where he goes solo come out, that you know he’s purposely opened the doors of opportunity to collaborate with others and add new dimensions to his music through what others can bring to it. And that’s a seriously beautiful point to get to in a music-career…it’s not like we could necessarily know what to expect from Ankur as it stood already, but adding in talents from elsewhere will really keep us guessing and always interested in what might come at us next. The Shades EP had one collaboration if I remember correctly…so again, you can actually even physically see that Ankur is reaching out more just by looking at the lineup of tunes on Intermission…and from everything you’ll hear, sounds like it was a really good idea to invite so many others onto the record, and that it’s inspired him in several ways. Strong emotional hooks in the chorus of “By Now” from Ankur…and stellar use of effects on his vocals – it’s actually quite a subtle cut that moves at a fairly mid-tempo overall, but he really makes the most of this moment and delivers a captivating & thought-provoking track that’s highly memorable for sure.
BING! We have a winner! Proof to my opening thesis is revealed from the very words of Ankur himself!
“If you stay where you are, you’ll surely regret it.”
That’s like a mission statement right there y’all. I mean, I’m just sayin’ like I’ve BEEN sayin’ – Ankur’s a really forward-thinking artist that sees the next-level clearly. Dude’s capable of incredible insight and drops several knowledge-bombs up on ya, all the while entertaining you through brilliantly smooth beats & sincere intentions…you gotta admire that. I think with the way the acoustic guitar & beat of “Old Friend” start to fire up the intensity alongside the increased speed of Ankur’s flow as this cut finds its groove is freakin’ righteously rad to listen to…and of all songs on the record, this might very well have the biggest payoff for listeners when it comes to the hooks. Like I was saying earlier – Ankur’s selected incredibly wisely when it comes to the featured guests throughout this record – Carmelo Munzone is another shining example of what it sounds like when you find the perfect fit to complement the theme, ideas, sound, and vibe all-around…this dude is right on the money in the chorus of this cut. Ankur comes at this track in a way you won’t expect lyrically, which I think will end up being a really cool thing for listeners to experience. Most would expect a song called “Old Friend” to be about someone that adds something positive to Ankur’s life…this is the opposite, entirely; “Old Friend” exposes what things can be like when you have that unexpected weight from a friendship that no longer adds anything of value, only subtracts & drags you down. While it might not be the happiest song you’re about to hear on your way into summer 2019, there’s a noteworthy amount of single-worthy sound in this cut as well – nearly rivaling what you’ll find on “Arena” – we’re talking pretty close to a similar caliber of accessibility…different reasons altogether, but both cuts could make a significant impact in drawing people into this record. Carmelo does an outstanding job on the hooks here…truly another highlight performance that you’ll find on the record, even taking a few bars of his own to create the bridge on this tune too. Overall, I’d be willing to be that “Old Friend” will absolutely one of the most memorable moments on Intermission to be found for many listeners and I can’t say I’d blame them for that choice.
But what IF…and I’m just saying IF…but what IF I told you this EP might STILL find a way to get better for ya by the end somehow? Absolutely awesome & uplifting vibe in the music of the final track “Hide And Seek” – Ankur puts introspection into the spotlight one last time here, featuring a gorgeous assist from the spectacular vocals of Ruth Groenbech lending her talents to the sweetness & sentiment you’ll find in the main hooks. I’m assuming that’s her in the backing-vocals as well…believe me when I say, whether it’s the lead or in the background, Ruth puts in a noteworthy performance that strengthens and complements this whole energy & vibe spot-on. We’ve experienced her excellence from the past record, when she appeared on the song “Stay Or Leave” from the Shades EP last time around…so make no mistake y’all, this is the returning champ here anchoring the set like a relay team, ready to bring it home and take this team of all-stars straight to the podium for the medals to be handed out. Lyrically, I don’t think there’s any argument to be made here really…Ankur’s an incredible writer – but he’s straight-up outdone himself on this final track and let you into his life like never before on “Hide And Seek” – so listen up! You’ll hear the story of where’s he’s been, what he’s gone through, what his thought-process is like – you’ll also gain genuine access to what it was like for him to create the Shades EP and hear the various reactions that came afterwards…how the critiques from others affected him…much of it, not as positively as you’d hope for a guy this dedicated. But that’s where the REAL positive aspect of “Hide And Seek” and the Ankur story is truly revealed…the fact that he’s here today, standing up tall & proud, confidently spittin’ rhymes and dedicating himself to every inch of his art & craft…that’s the ultimate victory – on LIFE y’all.
He’s written it best and Ruth sings it perfectly – “All I wanna be is the best I can be” – I think we can take that as genuine facts when it comes to the music Ankur is making and the artist/person he’s becoming. He puts his heart & soul into these songs in a powerful way that you can truly hear it – and when he’s at his best on Intermission, you’ll feel these tunes radiate & resonate with the passion Ankur and the talented list of all-stars on this record bring to this EP. More than commendable effort from all hands on deck here and all voices on the microphone – Intermission is a verifiable highlight from Ankur’s growing catalog of tunes and certainly confirms that he’s truly on the path he’s always been meant to be on.
Find out more about Ankur and hear his music from the links below! Make sure to hit up his official homepage and get yourself a free digital copy of the Intermission EP while you can!
Album purchase: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/intermission-ep/1460679999
Official Website: https://www.ankurmusic.com
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