Introspect – ROI

 Introspect – ROI

Introspect – ROI – Album Review

Dig this guy’s perspective and skills without a doubt!  From the moment I pushed play and the “Intro” started jammin’ – I felt like ROI was going to reveal this Canadian artist in all-star form, backed up with the production of his homie Flipmode…it’s the return of Introspect, and the man is soundin’ like he’s freakin’ stoked to be back.  You can hear personality right off the drop as “Intro” starts the album up, and as many of you know, I consider that to be a crucial element in any record I listen to.  What I heard in the music and on the microphone, within forty-two short seconds, already managed to confirm what I was hoping for…that Introspect would make his comeback innovative, fresh, and a statement of sorts.

Because if you’re not gonna make it sound like you meant to take things to the next-level, then why come back at all, am I right?  Listening to the inspired way that Introspect strings together syllables and verbal complexity with such fluidity & finesse on “Space God” – I could tell the man is back to deliver.  He gives you a bit of insight as to where he’s gone & where he’s been while he’s been away from the mic – though he’ll go into much more detail on that later down the road when you hit up “Hustling” later on.  For now, you get a smaller dose details-wise, but when it comes to the entertainment factor, “Space God” somehow manages to get the maximum out of 1:10 – there’s not an inch of wasted time to be found here.  Introspect has taken the time to educate himself even more in behind the scenes, waiting for that moment he KNEW would be right to comeback to rocking the m-i-c…and now that it’s here, you can hear him making the most of every minute.  Literally!  “Space God” is barely over a minute long – and while I’ll go into how I feel about the shorter tracks later on down the road around track eight on this record…to basically sum it up right now, would be to say I would have easily taken twice the length of this track.  LISTEN to the hooks that Introspect starts up “Space God” with, even before you hit the perfection he brings to the bars afterwards y’all…if anything, he might be leaving a bit on the table still.  All-in-all, that’s a nice problem to have – the last thing you want is people feelin’ like shit is too much.

Album title-track in full effect!  Introspect has got the vibe and sounds inspired on this new record, without question – it’s something you can hear in the way he’s spittin’ his bars, and that always counts huge in this world I’m livin’ in as a listener on the other side of the speakers.  “Doubting yourself is just bad for your health” – that’s solid advice right there is what that is y’all, so I hope you’re paying attention.  Ultimately, it’s a statement you can’t really miss – and it’s one that kind of encompasses everything I feel like I’m hearing on this album from Introspect…the man came back with PURPOSE y’all – and that MATTERS.  Again, if he wasn’t going to comeback with that, then why even bother, right?  So that’s the thing…you hear that resounding confidence, that desire, that intensity…all that is right here in tracks like “ROI” and this lineup of cuts overall.  Introspect came back to supply the world with the next chapter of his story, and prove that it’s a tale worth telling.  There’s “pressure on the kid” as he’ll tell ya – but he also “hopped in the booth like there’s nothing to it” – and from what I gather, it’s because he genuinely knows exactly what he wants to get out of this phase of his professional career.  It’s natural that we hit different roadblocks in life as we start out…sometimes it’s self-imposed, sometimes it’s from external bullshit – it doesn’t really matter – we run into things that stop us from continuing on the path we’ve set out on…and it’s up to us all as individuals to right the course.  To me, that’s what “ROI” is all about – it’s Introspect putting his career back on track, picking up where he left off to a degree, but with more speed, more confidence, more inspiration, more FIRE.  He’s rapping with purpose in every syllable.

While there’s no doubt that this album moves quickly through its series of short songs, Introspect is making the most of each moment and getting the maximum results out of these tinier timeframes.  Much credit to Flipmode as well, who has got this record produced perfectly to reveal the all-star potential of Introspect, crystal-clearly from the lefts to the rights.  Listen to the way the vibe switches with such fluidity on “Vulture” as it takes on a second life towards the end with a major transition for the finale.  Don’t get it twisted though – mad microphone skills don’t directly translate to good taste in basketball teams y’all – Introspect takes a moment to name-drop Nick Nurse and the Toronto Raptors on this track, and now it’s up to me to swoop in like a “Vulture” and pick his bones clean for it!  That’s RIGHT homie – I’m a self-hatin’ Canadian-basketball guy – I am THAT DUDE that is gonna proudly live on the same soil as you are Introspect, and readily proclaim that I dig just about every other team OTHER than the Raptors!  Muhahahaha.  *thunder crack *lightning flash *evil laugh.  I ride with The Beard, and wherever he goes, I go too.  So hellz yeah – that puts me ridin’ with Philly – and c’mon now…you KNOW their team name is prophetic!  It’s the seventy-sixth year in basketball…the rings comin’ to the 76’ers yo.  Alright, alright…I’ll stop giving him the gears…I’m off on a tangent, and I’m clearly just being a jackass.  What’s REAL, is that “Vulture” has got an absolutely wicked beat & music to it, and you hear Introspect make the most of this moment.  With a bit more time & space on this track, it’s much like I’d assumed and what I alluded to earlier on – he knows how to deliver, so the extra time is really beneficial to him.

There are only actually two tracks on ROI that end up topping the three-minute mark, and they come back-to-back in the set-list with “Hustling” being the first of the two.  This man knows his Hip-Hop – it’s something you can genuinely hear, and I’m loving that about the way that Introspect raps.  He gives you major history on who he is, where he’s come from, and the grind he’s been on to be where he is today.  I’ve got no reason to doubt what I’m hearing as the truth, so to me, a track like “Hustling” is the kind of cut I really find interesting – I’m all about the backstory and what makes someone become the person you are.  “If you want the real shit, I’m quenching your thirst.”  #INDEED!  That’s exactly what I’m talking about…ALL I want is the “real shit” – and I’m stoked about the fact that Introspect is servin’ it up here.  STRONG cut from Introspect here…in fact, I’d put “Hustling” right up there with some of the best of the best on this record, if not from the man’s catalog to-date so far…this is that kind of verbal statement track you wanna hear in a comeback record like ROI.  As I always say on these pages of ours, the more YOU there is in the music YOU make, the better off YOU are, and we are as listeners too for that matter.  We really get to know Introspect through this track…we get the story of the man behind the mic, that’s experienced a ton of success, and a few personal setbacks that ended up taking him away from doing what he loved in making music, to figuring out what really mattered, and what he’d want to do with his time if he ever came back to it.  “Sometimes you take a shot, hit the goal post” – he ain’t wrong y’all – “it’s just patience and experience” – that’s what counts…the more of that you get, the stronger you’ll become.  I really like that Introspect is unafraid to point out how much he still had to learn in his life.

“Escapist” goes for a bit of a heavier vibe in that emotional/thought-provoking sense of the word – I dig the seriousness you feel in this track.  Plus, you get a stellar performance from guest-star Robyn Black in the hooks as well…it’s a song that’s really got it all in many ways.  Introspect takes his time to really get the details into this cut, giving the four-plus minutes of “Escapist” a storyline that’s well worth your time to listen to.  This particular track might not be HIS story, but you can tell that the subject matter is close to his heart…that this tale still weighs on his mind to this very day, and quite likely, is built on real-life experience, you feel me?  It’s the story of a moment in time…and just like Introspect will tell ya, it’s not something that’s necessarily built to last, but there’s also no reason not to find out where it might all go too, you know?  “Escapist” is all about finding out where a connection can lead you…maybe it’s between the sheets, maybe it’s to a ring…you never really know, but it’s always worth exploring.  I love that this cut got some extra time to let the music shine at the end, and Robyn nailed her part down tight for sure.

I hear ya.  Shoutin’ out Lowry, and Fred VanVleet on “Flawless” – don’t make me go down this road again yo!  I swear I just got off this tangent, didn’t I?  Lemme get back up on my horse one more time and lay it all out here…Harden, Embiid, Maxey, Harris…Melton, Milton, Niang, Tucker…I am DYING to go up against the Raps this year in the post season if Toronto is lucky enough to make it there!  I’ll give you Scottie Barnes though homie…that dude’s a beast.  Freddie ain’t gonna be enough on his own though yo – and I guess we can both agree that Lowry is a straight-up pain in the ass now that both our teams have to deal with him on the other side of the court.  Anyhow!  See you in the playoffs bruh – BRING IT.  We want allllllllll that smoke…y’ain’t got no Kawhi to bring that ping-pong last second bullllllllllshit to us this time around.  “I don’t jump to conclusions, I just take a leap.”  I just took one there with all my shit-talk about basketball…all this with the three all-stars on my team sitting out injured right now, so believe me, I’m well aware my team could get SPANKED if we don’t get healthy, and quick.  But if we DO…mark my words Introspect, we’re comin’ for the Raps ASAP.  “Flawless” is a solid cut…I’ve got no issues with this, and I’ve gotta grind his ears about basketball because there’s nothing really to pick on in his music and I’m naturally adversarial.  Like I said, I am THAT DUDE.  “Me without music would be incomplete” is a line I love from “Flawless” – Introspect is flexin’ on this track without question, but he’s got the skills to back it up all said & done, so he’s earned the right.  This is classic Hip-Hop battle-mode mindset here.

I actually really like “Express Yourself (Interlude)” even though it’s only thirty-five seconds long – that’s a hook that definitely works bro!  There’s really not a whole lot of reasons to advise Introspect does anything different than he’s doing…he’s got a winning recipe, a signature style that’s effective, and he’s clearly got the talent for the Rap/Hip-Hop game, no doubt.  If I had anything to say, I’d say it as plain as I always do – but the reality is, he’s got the right ideas and he knows what he’s doing.  Would I be looking to tie-in a hook like “Express Yourself (Interlude)” into another song later in the lineup, or something like that?  Sure.  That could have been a good move.  As it stands, don’t get me wrong, I like it – but thirty-five seconds of anything makes for a strange inclusion, even when you’ve got the sentiment & intentions like this track has.  Everything on ROI is fairly short Introspect; all I’m sayin’ is you can be fearless when it comes to adding some length to the ideas you’re rockin’ – we ain’t afraid of some GIRTH as listeners yo!

“Scared Of” is a fantastic cut on this record.  Not only does it have the hooks & the signature flow of the man on the mic, but thematically, I think it’s got a tale many of y’all can relate to for sure.  I’m not gonna give you the whole story, but essentially, it comes down to the fact that none of us guys ever want to disappoint our old-man if we can avoid it – and this is Introspect’s tale of the time where he risked that more than ever before.  “For what it’s worth, it could have been worse” – and from what I can tell from the lyricism on this cut, he’s definitely right about that – Introspect got off LIGHT, but thankfully, he knows that, and he used the opportunity to set himself straight.  We ALL fuck up at different points in our lives – that part is natural, no matter who you are, where you live, or what you do – we’re all going to color outside of the lines at some point.  It’s up to us all as individuals to learn from that shit, or we just end up repeating it over & over & over again – and before we know it, we’ve grown up sideways.  I give people like Introspect serious credit for learning from their mistakes, recognizing what could have been, and finding a way to better themselves…because the true reality is, so many of us never grow up.

When you’ve got songs of cuts in the one-to-two minute range, someone’s gonna have to explain to me what makes something like “Chasing Verse (Interlude)” an interlude and not just another track, you feel me?  “Express Yourself (Interlude)” makes sense at thirty-five seconds…but once you’re crossing into territory where the time competes with other tracks on the record in question, I guess it just makes me wonder if there’s another reason for the distinction of “Chasing Verse (Interlude)” being an interlude that I’m just not thinking about.  That’s all semantics though, and big deal – it comes out tight and that’s all that really matters…don’t listen to me nerding-out on why something is this or that – it’s just what critics do…we dissect every little thing, and we invent issues where none even really exist.  So don’t take my words for anything other than exactly what I’m saying in my own smartass way – I’m saying a track like “Chasing Verse (Interlude)” has no problem whatsoever standing up strong on their own.  It doesn’t need anything else…it’s not even really an interlude in my opinion – it’s another solid cut, pure & simple.

The most you’re gonna find me conceding to ya is that Introspect has such a defined, signature approach to his bars that he does still have much more room to mix it up stylistically.  That’s not to say he doesn’t try a few different things along the way as ROI plays on – he does – I’m only saying that there’s still plenty of room for him to go even further with it.  The benefits are fully tangible…it’ll be more than the music he’s rapping on, more than the themes he chooses to rap about, that become what makes the main differences in what we hear from him from track to track.  Because he does have his thing – that’s both a blessing and a curse when it comes to making music…especially in the Rap/Hip-Hop game – when you have that comfortable rhythm & flow, you practically have to actively rebel against it, and focus even harder on finding ways to rap that you haven’t before.  Admittedly, a lot of what Introspect does can sound similar from track to track…but that’s also a large part of his identity too – the flipside of the coin is that there’s really no mistaking his songs for anyone else’s after you have a solid grip on what he sounds like and the way that he raps.  That’s all up to him though…no one says you’ve gotta go out and conquer Rome in a day…right now, we’re just stoked to have the man back doing what he loves on this record, and it’s fair to say that if he continues to keep his career moving forward from here, he’ll find many new ways to keep ya entertained as the years go by.  He makes some good moves with the call & answer method in the hooks of “Tension” – all-in-all, it’s a great track with a positive message at its core, and some of the best music you’ll find on this album without question.  Dude’s got a real way with his words and I don’t think anyone would dispute that…do I think that Introspect probably has even more in the tank than we experience on ROI?  I do actually…but that’s a good thing.  I don’t expect all that to come out on one record – I’m stoked to hear his evolution continue on strong over his time in the scene.

“I Can’t Breathe” harnesses the intensity perfectly – it’s a killer final track to have on Introspect’s ROI.  It’s easily one of the most crucial cuts on the record…one of the most socially aware/insightful…and definitely the kind of track I’d highly encourage an artist like Introspect to continue digging into.  He’s gifted when it comes to the art of expression and saying what’s on his mind – and we need people armed with the strength & smarts to do that right more than we ever have in the world right now.  So to hear Introspect calling out injustices, calling out the brutality & callousness of cowards hiding behind the thin blue line and the badge…I mean…we NEED artists like this guy using their platform to inform and to educate, because the message we NEED is way lost within the spiral of decline in mainstream media.   He makes a clever reference to one of the all-time greats in Hip-Hop within the opening lines of this final track too if you’re paying attention…spinning the title of “911 Is A Joke” by Public Enemy into the tale of his own story.  Introspect takes on just about everything from systemic problems to white-collar crime, to discrimination, to government-designed inequality…to a bold look right in the eyes of who we are, what makes us, and what breaks us.  “The system has failed” – and Introspect has proven he’s willing to stand up & call it like it really is…and just like I was tellin’ ya, we need artists with this level of courage to help shape the future to follow, so that we’re all on our way to tomorrows that are better than today.

ROI has been as entertaining as informative.  Awesome to hear a guy with this level of talent come back and instantly start thriving like he should be.  Find out more about Introspect at this magical multi-link:

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