Ashton Martin – Growth 4 – EP Review
The man and his attitude ARE the hooks y’all.
Lemme explain. For the vast majority of my time spinning through the new Growth 4 EP by Ashton Martin coming out on the 26th this month with my advance copy over here, he’s given me plenty of reasons to keep on spinning this long after reviewing it here. Though I’ll admit, I wasn’t all too sure at first when the hooks of “Grow Up” started up on the opening track…it’s not that they don’t work, but they do have a few dissonant tones in the layers of backing vocals that made for a bit of an awkward fit at the beginning. By the time Ashton started hittin’ the bars full time & full speed in his verses though, that’s where things changed instantly for the better – listening to this guy bust rhymes outside of the hooks was completely where I was at…that’s where you can hear just how much this guy’s got to say. Like I was saying though…he’s got bars and style for miles…he started the Growth 4 EP with the only cut that ended up having a spot or two that’d I’d question in the overall results, but the rest from here on in was completely smooth sailing. Forty seconds or so into the cut, when you get introduced to the main star of the show and hear how confidently & strong this guy hits his bars with…there really ain’t nothing left to complain about; I might not love the main hooks to this first track, but if that’s what I gotta wade through to get to the fluid flow of these verses he’s spittin’ – believe me when I say, no problemo y’all. Incidentally, he’s pretty much describing me perfectly to a tee in the spoken-word outro…I 100% suffer from Peter Pan syndrome and that’s not likely gonna change even after being called out here at the end.
“Growth 4” is title-worthy, yes y’all. You want growth homies, it’s right there between tracks 1 & 2 – by the time you get to the second cut on this record, things are smoother-than-smooth and stylistically slick AF! “You can’t be a big dog inside a small kennel” – that’s facts, and it’s high time to let this big dog out into the yard to do his thang with all the room he needs to do it. From the jazzy vibe in the beat, to the up-close look at what’s important and what really causes growth – I could pull quotes from this entire cut all day long – Ashton shows ya he’s highly insightful here on “Growth 4.” Like – “the harder I grind the more I care less how they feel bout it” is a brilliant line – and like he’ll tell ya even more direct later on down the verse, “open my eyes and realize I ain’t gotta prove myself to nobody” – all this rings true, 100%. Trust me when I say, when you get that point, the authenticity so many people try and purposely seek out just comes naturally to ya – there’s a serious freedom in not paying too much attention to what people have to say in that regard…you follow Ashton’s blueprint here, and you turn into the artist you were meant to be, rather than the one you think you should be – and that’s growth y’all. Like me calling out what I might not have liked as much in the first track of this record – who am I? It don’t matter – I’m just one guy with an opinion…and where there’s one guy like me, there are a million others out there as well that will try to tell ya this needs to be changed or that needs to be changed…ignore us! You do YOU – that’s what matters – and the more you do that, the better the results become; “Growth 4” is full proof that Martin gets it. I mean, sure, there’s always someone out there with good advice & a general consensus on things can be beneficial to ya too as you evolve in whatever your craft of choice may be – but what you’ll hear in a cut like this is all the evidence your ears need to know natural instincts produce extraordinary results, and a genuine reflection of the man that Ashton is both in front of & behind the studio boards. The man’s pursuing greatness with pure conviction & a whole lotta skill on display here.
“Isreal” is PLENTY real yo! Ashton gets a supreme amount of bounce in the beat on this cut and delivers on a strong hook that combines complex rhythm and all-out clever choices. For REAL – the hook of the chorus makes a massive impact, and it’s a stellar way to start this cut off on all the right notes. Dude sounds larger than life on this track…Martin flexes serious finesse on his bars, and trades the mic to another for the second verse in a collaboration on this cut, if my ears are hearing this all correctly. Bottom line is, pound for pound, beat for beat, “Isreal” is enormous on all-fronts. You want growth? Ashton springs up like ten feet tall to put the rest of the emcees firmly into his shadow here. Tons of personality on the mic here in both its main halves, and certainly in the main hook you’ll find here – there’s a good chance that this track might very well contain the most memorable hook on this whole EP. Highly impressive – “Isreal” thumps with hard-hitting sound and Ashton & his homeboy Drew here on the mic put the emphasis & punch into every syllable with matching intensity & energy to suit the song. All-in-all, lyrically, it’s as excellent as the rest – but what makes this continually stand out in this set-list is how HUGE “Isreal” IS from start to finish…that in itself is worth the price of admission, 100%.
This EP MOVES quick as the rhymes do…Martin is all about keeping things right & tight as can be, and clearly this being Growth 4 & all, it’s obviously not his first rodeo, you dig? The man’s on the all-pro team at this point in his career, and giving his music the energy and passion it deserves – you can hear that in his approach throughout this record, but certainly on cuts like “Locked In” as well. Puttin’ on a verbal clinic on this track, Ashton handles his business on the mic like a true professional and veteran of the game, droppin’ confident bars that contain serious passion for the craft and a love of making music that you can genuinely hear. It’s more than just a means to make bread – this clearly means everything to the man behind the microphone, and from the performances you can hear him put into “Locked In” and throughout the rest of this record, you can hear that he’s not even entertaining the idea of letting a solitary second go to waste. Listen to the way he breaks up the words & the pace of his main hook here, and you’ll hear the kind of insightful structure & songwriting that makes the difference – and when combined with the flawless performances this dude puts in, he’s a verifiable force to be reckoned with. I really dig the unbreakable spirit you find in Ashton Martin…you can tell this guy’s built on bulletproof character and genuinely cares about bringing his best, every time, regardless of what you, or I, or anyone else out there thinks. He’s got his head on straight, and he knows that what’s essential is that at the end of the day, he can bump these cuts, knowing he put the WORK in, and didn’t let HIMSELF down. He’s “Locked In,” he’s focused, and he’s got the skills required to achieve whatever he chooses his own definition of success to be – tracks like “Locked In” might not be the main standout at first, but another solid addition to a whole lineup of cuts that have serious strengths in all areas…plus the beat is all-killer.
I’m gonna advocate for “Back And Forth” probably being not just my own favorite cut from this record, but probably a great many of yours out there as well. Thematically, you’ll notice Martin’s been solidly focused throughout the clear majority of the bars on this record & songs you’ll find on it – it’s about growth as the title implies, both personal & professional – and tracks like “Back And Forth” really bring out the best in him. It could be a bit more sincerity in the sound of the music that brings out a more gripping, down-to-earth vibe here…maybe it’s simply Ashton reflecting on where he’s come from & what he’s been through to become the artist he is now today…it could be many things that draws his personality out to the mic in bold & vulnerable ways here, but the bottom line is, a cut like this goes a long way in getting to know the man. There’s no doubt after you listen to “Back And Forth” that you’ll feel like Martin’s opened-up just that much more on this track than any other on the record…and call me crazy, but that’s completely enticing to listen to, every time. This is what I keep explaining to artists & bands out there…the more YOU there is in a song, the more WE respond to it, as listeners – and I don’t think I could find a track that highlights by example, just how much of a difference that can make, than this one does. He’s got hooks in the music, he’s got hooks in his verses, and hooks-upon-hooks in the chorus – but every ounce of this track has SUBSTANCE…it’s unbelievably grounded & real, and all-out extraordinary to listen to. In my humble opinion, “Back And Forth” is straight-up award-worthy; it’s a true case of absolutely everything being right in the place you wanna hear it in…from the wise tone in his voice, to the vibe in the music, Ashton is as captivating as he is entertaining here – this is perfection.
“I’m just givin’ it all I got until my cells die out” – am I hearing this correctly? Because if I am, than “So Much” certainly helps prove my point about how you can hear this emcee holds nothing back when it comes time to perform, how to get his best into his lyricism, and the drive behind his attitude in making his dreams turn into his daily reality. The sound of Ashton Martin truly speaks volumes on his behalf – there’s never been a moment in any of the verses you’ll hear him spit throughout this record that he hasn’t absolutely brought his A-game to…and it’s the consistent commitment he brings to the game that had me spinning this record multiple times in a row for days. He also does really well on cuts like this that have a hybrid combination of music that takes his sound in a jazzier direction, while still remaining straight-club when it comes to bass & low-end involved. “So Much” goes so much further beyond any kind of great beat or hook though – there’s a whole lot of pain being put forth through the microphone here…there’s history, there’s facts, and there’s the aftermath of what that’s all led to today. While the system continues to oppress – it’s leaders like Ashton that are finding the strength it takes to rise above, create awareness, and spark that change we need to see out there in order to break it, & make it better.
“Transition (Outro)” is probably my…second favorite cut on this record. It’d be hard to knock “Back And Forth” outta the top spot for me personally, but having this strong of an anchor at the very end of the EP also tells ya that you’re in-store for a ride that continually builds to this moment, and exits on what’s gotta be considered one of his stronger cuts on the new record, if not THE strongest. Which, again, it very well could be – I’d listen to that argument. You’ll uncover more details laid down in the story of the man behind the m-i-c on “Transition (Outro)” and hear details on how he’s battled everything from the elements around him obstructing his greatness, to struggling against his own mind just to keep his head on straight enough to be on the path he’s on now today, blazin’ his trail while he’s spittin’ his tale. There’s no doubt it hasn’t been an easy straight line from point-A to point-B – in fact if you’ve been listening closely to this record, you’ll know just how twisted that line has been at times for Ashton – but it’s also the fact that he’s HERE to deliver this EP right NOW (well, the 26th, but you get it…) that proves that what doesn’t break you, can make you so much stronger than you’d ever know during the hardest of times. “Transition (Outro)” will relate a lot of the reasons he’s been hustling hard and going after his music-career with everything he’s got…and the character in this guy, will continually pull you in to listen; there’s wisdom in this man’s words…it’s the conviction in Ashton’s voice that makes this experience as real as it gets & massively impressive to listen to. Growth 4 is as genuinely grounded as it is inspiring, as entertaining as it is engaging – Ashton Martin’s got a tight set of seven in the mix here for ya, turn it up.
March 26th is when Growth 4 drops online – until then, make sure to find out more about Ashton Martin and hear more of his music from the links below!
Official Website: https://www.ashtonmartin.info
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