Endsightt – The Pioneer Mixtape – Album Review
“You didn’t think I’d come back now did ya?” Rapper, hip-hop artist and extreme-innovator Endsightt might actually be assuming too much there while loading his shotgun in the background of “23,” the first cut on his brand-new record, The Pioneer Mixtape – I wouldn’t have assumed anything would have kept someone with this much talent away from the mic. But maybe that’s just me…
Endsightt massively impressed us with his record The Music Demo in 2016…and I suppose what I can say in support of that opening line of his new mixtape is that maybe I didn’t expect him to come back so soon. What he accomplished on The Music Demo is admittedly, extremely rare…to the point where it would be wrong to expect that to simply just happen again. From the beginning to the end, the vision was completely there…an album entwined in itself…like a concept album altogether. To have him back already…and knowing that there’s a team of PR or management somewhere in between this artist and myself in terms of communicating…kind of made me wonder if we’re in for that old adage of ‘you get a lifetime to write your first record and two weeks to write your second.’ I definitely expected Endsightt to come back – just not so soon.
That all being said…I did end up feeling more of a rush with this record’s writing than I did with the last one, no doubt about it. On The Pioneer Mixtape, Endsightt keeps it much more surface-level…the songs on this album certainly have the flavor…but I’m not entirely sure they’re not missing some of the substance. The quality of sound and performance is still at an incredibly high level, which is solid; I don’t think he’s run out of things to say or ideas to share…there’s just arguably less of them this time around. Seeing that the lead-single “Ghost Of John” was on The Pioneer Mixtape had me feeling like there’d be that same mix of passion, innovation and deeply-threaded material on the menu at first glance – loved that tune when we heard it and reviewed it back in September of 2016 and it seemed like he’d be picking up right where he left off with The Music Demo. I’m not so sure about that now.
I’ll say this…in starting with “23” and quickly heading into the record…I wouldn’t exactly say that Endsightt was ever a calm dude…but maybe noticeably more angry as The Pioneer Mixtape begins? Musically, this guy is still slaying it on his new album with his mix, production and ideas – definitely still really good songs to listen to…it’s only in examining this record up close by comparison to the first record that you begin to feel that difference between the releases. “23” has him spittin’ rhymes at 100mph and being as direct as he gets with the points he wants to make about himself, his place in the music-scene and what that music-scene is like in today’s world. You can hear the conviction in the man’s words and the added weight of his emphasis when he really wants you to take notice of what he’s laying down on the mic, you can hear the intensity and the tremendous level of skill that Endsightt can bring to any rhyme.
Individually, these songs are great for the most part…but the record does end up feeling like that…a series of individual ideas that threatens the cohesion somewhat. Like the adjustment into the nearly trap-style “El Paso, Pt. 2” featuring Too Truee will likely throw you a bit. There’s parody, there’s satire…and then there’s also coming too close to the subject for the points to come across – I think “El Paso, Pt. 2” ends up just being a part of the sound it’s trying to call-out. The shift in sound is noticeable here on this second tune…and honestly…this one worried me; it sounded like a concentrated effort to create something more ‘relevant’ for what’s out there in the clubs today…and I just don’t know this artist to head in that kind of direction. Endsightt…to me at least…was always more about being a complete fuck-you to what was already out there and always determined to go his own way. Not saying that an artist shouldn’t always allow themselves the freedom to change…and I’ve personally got nothing against anything trap-related either…it was just…surprising I suppose to hear him go this route. On that first time around through The Pioneer Mixtape, having this song so close to the front of its playlist definitely makes the listening-ear question what might be coming next and if it would be more of this as opposed to the starkly innovative and different ideas this insightful rapper tends to bring to the table. I wouldn’t swear by “El Paso, Pt. 2” by any stretch…but it does have its moments. I dig the way Endsightt begins the verse…same as when Too Truee enters the rhyme, I really liked that moment too…especially when the backing vocals starting tripping out the mix and really filling this track out along with him. Not sure about the early backing vocals at all until Too Truee arrives into the song…I’ve got mixed feelings on those, though I understand why they’re in there, to provide that hazy party-gone-too-far vibe. “El Paso, Pt. 2” takes a while to find solid ground…which happens right around the 2:40 mark when the track is in full-swing in the mix & on the mic. But I kind of felt that way about The Pioneer Mixtape overall…it takes a while to get going this time around for Endsightt and get the best out of himself onto this recording.
That familiar funk-style beat that made The Music Demo sound large & in-charge comes into the mix on “Lucy” from Endsightt’s new record. It’s still really tough to advocate on his behalf that this is Endsightt at his most focused…it’s not…but it’s another good tune. Love the combo of bass & saxophone with the beat – that all works; so does his flow, pacing and stylistic delivery – he sounds good…there’s just much less that he’s trying to say this time around…and I’m not quite sure what’s up with that. “Lucy” is about as surface-level of a cut that you can hear – and in that sense, certainly not what you’d expect from Endsightt if you’d heard The Music Demo before this album. As a concept within itself and apart from the rest of the songs on The Pioneer Mixtape, it works well enough I suppose; but on a cut like “Lucy” you hear the concept, you feel the beat, and you get the point quickly, absorbing it in-full. I’m just not so sure he’s given you that reason to return to it afterwards, know what I mean? For the music & flow…I can justify my own returning to “Lucy,” but I’ll admit…I’m still looking for more from Endsightt on this record at this point when it comes to the lyrics, because I know there’s a lot more in his tank than this.
And ya don’t get it from the lyrics of “Send Me On My Way” featuring Dreamerjazz either! That being said…this particular cut isn’t exactly trying to be about its lyricism in any way, shape or form for the most part so much as it goes for mood & atmosphere…so it becomes much easier to give this one a passing grade. You get an ultra-solid verse from Endsightt towards the end of the cut…but for the most part he’s working with a rhythmic hook in the vocals that he works like an instrument in the mix. “Send Me On My Way” marks the subtle-shifting of this record into the right direction in my opinion…I wouldn’t say that this particular track is the one for the people out there, or that we’d necessarily agree that this is where that shift is occurring for the better…might just be how I felt about this tune. I think the floating-feeling that you get on “Send Me On My Way” sounds incredibly loose but insightfully strong at the same time. Love the creativity in the music once again and how this whole track kind of sounds like it was born from an ayahuasca trip way out there in the desert somewhere. The shifting pace and the way this track is structured to evolve, saving its most impressive lyrical moments for the end after a chilled-out journey to get there…yeah…I don’t quite know what it is exactly, but I really like this one. Endsightt kept tripping ME right out with this one…some of the way he’s mixed these backing vocals and shouts throughout the song sounded like a person had crept up right behind me and said it directly into my ears. I’d get settled right into the smooth, chill vibe of “Send Me On My Way” and then be verbally jolted by the way he’s mixed it later on…and it happened each and every time I listened – for some reason, I never ended up remembering they were coming or expecting them; I’d be right into the tune and then freaked out for those moments when it sounded like there was an extra voice in the room. I dig that kind of stuff though…smart little additions and tweaks like that make it an experience.
“Ghost Of John” is still a damn great tune and a complete reminder of what made The Music Demo such a great record to listen to without feeling like he was repeating himself. You can find my full review/thoughts on this lead-single from Endsightt at this link here – but rest assured, I still feel the same way; it’s a single-worthy cut and a great choice to have put this one out there for the people to check out as a sample of what Endsightt can do & what he’s all about when it comes to flow & style. Not that he can really be pinned down to any one thing specifically…and he’ll prove that in the upcoming songs on the record. Definitely a solid inclusion to The Pioneer Mixtape at around this point of the album…because once this record trips past its halfway-point, it really starts to become incredibly impressive and a staunch reminder of just how good this guy can be when he’s at his most focused.
Take “Girl Wasn’t The World” for example. Endsightt has traveled so far out of his ‘typical’ realm here that’s it impossible not to notice this tune…but also notice, just how great this guy sounds when he reaches for something new. Rather than rapping, he sings this one out through subtle effects and low, hushed tones…approaching melody with heart and not seeming to pay any mind to the fact that this tune is so different from the rest. There’s no caution in his voice that tells you he’s afraid that switching up his game is going to get him into shit with the people that he knows best for ‘going soft’ here – he’s just really feeling the moment and going with it, as he should be. I felt like the results spoke for themselves completely here…this is absolutely one of the best songs on The Pioneer Mixtape in my opinion. The effects give him just a bit of trouble in the mix if you listen really, really closely…but for 99% of this tune, the sincerity, tone and mood of this song are perfectly on-point. This isn’t the first time or likely the last that you’ll hear Endsightt at odds with love…it’s impossible not to notice the psychological-toll that relationships have had on his mind, art and music. Even when he’s doing his absolute best to communicate his ability to move past it…that becomes a harder argument when you listen to his music and find the subject as a consistent theme. Perhaps the music has been a form of therapy and songs like “Girl Wasn’t The World” help him past all that love-stuff…but when it comes to the recordings, he’s still right there in those moments in his mind and feeling all the feels. The end result is that whether or not he wants you to hear how real these feelings are, you can. In my humble opinion…it’s when he’s expressing himself at his most vulnerable like this that he really connects to us.
He continues on a roll through another introspective and personal track called “That Town Was Just A Town” – another seriously strong tune on this record. Endsightt opens up and sounds like he gives us some insight into his own history here…the song is either one big hook or devoid of typical hooks at all – you call that one as you personally hear it. For me, this is what really works though…when Endsightt puts that real focus on his lyricism and doesn’t necessarily worry about whether it may/may-not appeal to us en masse. The music and atmosphere of this entire track is highly captivating…the beginning of “That Town Was Just A Town” pulls you right in close to listen…almost as if it was written in a purposely meditative or hypnotic style. He’s got some amazing ideas in the backing vocals and mix of this cut and I love how this one is paced out, evolves, expands and grows as it moves on. Around the three-minute mark, “That Town Was Just A Town” finds itself a bit more life in its blood, increasing the beat and adding in more elements to the music to fill in the atmosphere even more. He saves his main verse for the end once again on this tune…much more like a spoken-word cut or artistic endeavor than just another typical rap track…not that he’s ever really created anything ‘typical.’ Endsightt keeps this second-to-last cut highly unique from the rest…I felt like it all worked strongly in his favor and flowed perfectly in The Pioneer Mixtape’s final track, “Pioneer (Wait For Second Born).”
He ends the experience on strong, confident & bold tones through his delivery on the mic during “Pioneer (Wait For Second Born)” – at times leaving his vocals alone with only the beat itself to guide him along. Bursting like a full-on explosion of stream-of-consciousness…the dam holding the water back completely breaks here at the end, letting the emcee flow freely and unrestricted. It’s another track that works like one big-hook…Endsightt barely allows himself enough time to get some air while he’s ripping through the bars of “Pioneer (Wait For Second Born).” Lyrically, you can hear him refer to his work, his music, his methods…and ultimately before the end, his message. It sounds freestyled…or at the very least, without edits or cuts – Endsightt is moving at full speed at the end of his record in one of the more revealing tracks on the record, ending it all conclusively and concretely as he possibly can. In the final line of “Pioneer (Wait For Second Born)” – he makes sure that you’ll certainly be expecting him next time…if he has to pull out the shotgun again on that next record he makes and you’re not ready for the blast…that’s gonna be on YOU.
The Pioneer Mixtape might have had more varied results overall than the cohesive nature of The Music Demo, but it’s still a highly enjoyable record, made with clear passion for the game on display. Comparing anything to The Music Demo is going to make things tougher though…that might very well be the kind of record that is only made once in a lifetime. The songs on this album are still wickedly entertaining…and if anything, it gets progressively more creative and innovative as it plays through its set-list, leaving you on the real highlights that mainly occur through The Pioneer Mixtape’s second-half. The skill is still on display along with the quality…and though the focus of this emcee wanders a bit this time around…I’d still be inclined to listen to Endsightt before 90% of the other rappers out there.
I think…I’m not entirely sure after checking it out recently myself…but I think you might still be able to get yourself some Endsightt information at Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/endsightt/