Barrett Staples – That Yonder – EP Review
This guy has style for miles – how is this the first time I’ve heard about Barrett Staples? This boy’s got SKILLS…and he makes them known with authority and confident movements in each and every step throughout his new EP, That Yonder. Riddled with insightful lyricism, social commentary and personal reflection – Barrett’s got impressive flow in his hip-hop; the music is good but it’s truly the vocals and writing itself that shine the brightest throughout the four songs on this record.
As “Nova” began in an instrumental-vein with a glitch-electro intro that reminded me of Four Tet…and after expecting vocals in the last review I wrote and not getting them…I quickly assumed this was going to be an instrumental project before the rap began. After nearly forty-seconds, the flow kicks-in and from there, Barrett Staples never stops rhyming! The subtle sway in the music of “Nova” sounds completely inviting as it sparkles & repeats in behind the incredible rap from Staples. His bars on the verse are absolutely SICK and the hook of “Nova” is bound to stick in your head for days and days after hearing it. Big-time pull to this kind of captivating performance; the way that Staples twists and turns, pivots and shifts off each word and every syllable is impressively flawless and delivered with a comfortable style & approach that speaks to just how well this artist knows and understands what the material calls for. Great energy, fantastic beat and unmatchable vocal-flow – this is a perfect example of putting your best foot forward and creating that genuine impact on listeners through a first experience.
Taking it into the low-end heavy ride on “Spindrift” – Barrett continues to put on a prize-fighter’s display of highlights on the microphone with intricate, complex rhymes that all come out sounding incredibly smooth in his delivery, pounding us with word after word. But it’s CLEAR! Imagine that eh?
*quickly addresses like, ALL of modern-day rap…
You CAN be clear on the mic and deliver an entire song’s worth of satisfying wordage to listen to…you know, like the fundamental roots of the genre, rhythm AND poetry. Let’s face facts…the second half of that equation has largely been disappearing from the modern-day approach – but not here. You see…when you WRITE QUALITY lyrics – you naturally WANT them to be heard…because chances are you’re proud of what you’ve written deep down. If you weren’t…you’d mumble them up and bury them in effects and the mix of the music like everyone else seems to be doing these days. And that’s a LAZY ASS approach that clearly wouldn’t cut it for what Barrett is attempting to accomplish. The words come at you fast & furiously throughout “Spindrift” as Staples relates some of his own history and how he got here…and where he’s heading to now. Solidly realized ideas on this cut…the beat is infectious and the vocal-flow continues to impress the ears; I like the contrasting speed in the chorus and how well it fit into the momentum this track builds on and I love how the hooks are sung.
“Right Way” was a serious adventure and ride through entertainment. Kind of reminds me a bit of Lil’ Dicky & Busta Rhymes when it comes right down to it…the incredible ability to extrapolate the very best out of each and every syllable and be able to bend & shift the sound of the words we hear to perfectly match the tone & energy of the music is a real gift – and Barrett’s done plenty already to convince us he’s got that in spades. Listen to the enormity of the hooks in “Right Way” and that should be all you need to convince you that Staples is confidently seizing his moments at the mic with strong conviction and the complete ability to deliver. Again…most of this confidence you hear really comes from knowing the material inside & out – and it’s in that respect that you can tell Staples is the consummate professional, ready to put the rest in the dirt & dust as a distant memory by comparison. Pretty sure that’s still Staples in the second-half of the track, just a different filter or approach to the sound of the microphone…if it’s not him as well he’s sure found someone with equally impressive skills – but I think you can hear from the delivery in the way the words come out that it’s gotta be the man himself.
Saving his smoothest and arguably most widely accessible beat for the end of the record, “All Right” sounds as safe, comforting and inviting as its title suggests. Nearly a dip into the R&B/Electro universe here…were it not for the incredible continuous stream of words coming from Staples you’d almost assume this was going to fit into a different genre altogether. Once again, he’s done an immaculate job on the pacing of the lyrics and flow and fitting it all in with ease – even as the beat stays smooth, Staples continues to keep the words ripping by at a rapid pace with exceptional fit to the metering of the music. The hooks in the chorus are smooth AF…overall, it’s a fantastic ending to the EP and the ending of “All Right” itself takes us out of the experience perfectly. Taking it to a low-key vibe and hushed tones amongst violin/piano sounds with an added hint of electro into the vocals, “All Right” is solid as steel by the time it reaches the end and delivers the satisfying ending this record deserved.
That Yonder EP has style, energy and real passion & skill on display from every angle you look at it or listen to it from. Big fan of what I’ve heard here from Barrett Staples – it’s innovative & creative artists like this that are certain to lead the way to the future & next-level of hip-hop.
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