Quiet Leader – Album Pre-Release Singles Reviewed
Alright…homie is still assembling the album…details are all a little bit scattered still…but I’m cool with it…you can tell he’s got a lot on his plate right now, could of sworn he mentioned there were twelve songs on this ReverbNation – yet low & behold, there’s fourteen. So maybe the Quiet Leader is going through some additional stress in putting the album together…or maybe math is just never the priority. As long as the music remains the focus…I’d suppose we’re all good…though at the time I’m writing this, I’m also realizing I’ve got no image here either. Well…here we go!
The fact of the matter is, our Quiet Leader here is just getting it all going and jumping into the game. When you consider that all this has been done without any kind of professional studio help, any experts or anything other than desire, his ability and ideas – you can’t help but at least be impressed with how far he’s truly gone already. Quiet Leader is clearly ready for the next step…the ideas and flow are pretty much in place…now it’s the clarity/refinement stage before those final recordings begin. So without focusing too hard on the mix/production…I’ll see if I can do anything to help out here while there’s still time for Quiet Leader to change anything he might want to before recording these songs permanently.
“1up” is the first song I hit up, and immediately I was able to take a breath and realize that Quiet Leader isn’t lacking in skills or ideas whatsoever…it’s really just the pro-touch & studio-help we’re missing at the moment. The sample music he’s chosen for “1up” is the kind of beat that can certainly captivate, entertain and truly interest a listener; using a violin, bass & beat – Quiet Leader puts out a solid flow overtop of “1up.” A track like this is gonna need that music to come way, way up…that’s a beat that needs to be heard and putting that up is going to make this cut killer for sure – with the layered vocal areas…always a spot to be careful as it can get pretty muddled for what the words are, and that’ll come down to choices Quiet Leader will make on how important it is/isn’t to have every word he spits be registered by the listening ears out there. There’s times and places where it’s more than acceptable to become a part of the rhythm and melody…but where that line exists and occurs is always different for everyone from the artist themselves to the person listening. I could take it a step further and say I’ve never quite gotten the idea behind the layered, monster-esque vocals with pitch-shifting etc…but that’s probably just me. To me it’s often an indication of confidence still yet to fully grow…if the mainstreamers are doing it, they’re doing it sparingly; it seems to be an idea that I’ve heard often, but is born in the underground circuit…but I also have a feeling I have a good idea as to why it’s not hitting the mainstream sound more often… So…suppose what I’m saying is though I like the music, lyrics and flow itself on a track like “Bedroom Freestyle” and can appreciate that a freestyle ain’t easy – let’s be honest here…you gotta be able to really hear it to be impressed by it. This one is a tougher one in the sense that it flips from the recipe in that first-cut…on “Bedroom Freestyle” both these MC’s need to come up; we’ve got our Quiet Leader at nearly a whisper and then also featuring the multiple-layers on Kaiju…we got some issues that are easily worked out. “Bedroom Freestyle” – I mean…it’s all good to be recording in a bedroom, I got no problem with that…but do it in the daytime without being worried about whether or not you’re waking anyone up and I can guarantee better results on this one. Right now it audibly has a feel to it that tells me these two MC’s hit the record-button, started up their flows…and soon realized they had to keep the volume in-check, unless they wanted to wake up the whole household.
A track like “Death Wish” also highlights the potential and confidence that Quiet Leader can have. The contrast in approach on this track as opposed to the first two we’ve heard…I’d say that “Death Wish” of the three is the most rehearsed and well-known to QL – that extra-thick layer of confidence generally comes from really getting into your material, knowing it inside & out and being this comfortable with it. The flow comes out with energy, emotion and passion…the sample music on “Death Wish” is some of my favourite I’ve found in these pre-release singles.
I am however…going to have to put the two of you into separate corners though if you’re going to keep turning the volume down on me. Kaiju…I’m looking at you here as “Enemy Within” starts up with Quiet Leader’s homie once again featured. I think the overall idea and trading off of the mic works a lot better here than it did in “Bedroom Freestyle,” but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t feel like we’re trying to not wake the neighbours again. The main issue more than likely is the punch in the low-end beat…and that’s no easy thing for anyone to mix in right, doesn’t matter if you’re a pro or just starting out. Once those hits start jumping into the red-lines as quickly as they do…it’s a battle to suppress them, still have them keep their impact and punch – and THEN you still have to get the vocals in tight and still find a way to raise the entire volume up to match the rest. So there are like…three-to-four separate spots where the red-line becomes a worthy adversary and an extremely tough battle to overcome…you can tell that “Enemy Within” was a tough-one all over as the vocals hit the red-lines and peak with slight distortion in effort to find that balance and perfect mix. It’ll come. Important thing is…once again the material is strong enough…again, I like the trade-off on the mic on this one and that works…music’s good…”Enemy Within” just needs that refinement but it’s a solid tune. But Kaiju…I’m telling ya…right now I’m holding you responsible for this volume issue that’s only popped up when you’ve been around…and I see you’re still on some tracks to come…I dunno man…it’s suspiciously coincidental, that’s all I’m sayin’!
Although “Fuck Your Love” has a few slight metering-issues when it comes to the lyrics – I also think there’s a winning-track here. Quiet Leader takes a more sensitive-approach to really get close to you and give you the real-talk overtop of “Fuck Your Love” and it works for him. This cut borrows severely from the old-school of Hip-Hop…the potential here is excellent. Does this need another several run-throughs on the vocals for Quiet Leader to nail this down as tight as can be – yes…yes it does; but again – the point being that the material is strong enough to be worth the re-recording of the ideas. “Fuck Your Love” has a rad smoothness to it…it’s also unique to what you’ve heard from Quiet Leader so far and really does pop out with its bizarre-but-powerful, melodic-hooks.
As right as I’ve heard him so far – “Game Over” is damn near right where he’ll want it to be in a finished product. There are a few issues in terms of the vocals drifting too far from the mic to catch it all crisply…Quiet Leader will wander in & out of the music on “Game Over” – on this cut it sounds more like position to the microphone than it does any kind of slip in production. You can be a Quiet Leader all you’d like to…but if you really want us to hear those words, ya gotta make sure you not only get right in there, but stay right in there once you’re there! “Game Over” just needs that vocal-line to come up a little and find its consistent volume and I think that when combined with the extraordinary sample he’s created for the music of this track, there’s no doubt about its massive potential. “Game Over” has much more potential than just being a good song – this could quite easily become a GREAT song with a few minor tweaks.
On that note…I’m sure you’ve noticed…we’re going a little further in-depth into an unreleased record here than normal – that’s purely because as a true-student of the rap-game that genuinely WANTS to succeed and be the best version of the Quiet Leader he can be. He’s looking to grow, evolve and take that next step on…and when he gets there, he’ll have made the right move of seeking feedback prior to the final recording from many sources, not just my fat-mouth. Armed with these insights…Quiet Leader will be able to filter out what’s important…and those results he’s looking for WILL come.
Because I think you’ll agree with me…there could be something extremely cool here just waiting to break out. We’re not all born in a music-studio surrounded by the right equipment – but born with potential, we sure as hell are. Listen to a track like “Piccolo” – you’ve gotta be able to hear that beat-wise, sample-wise, atmosphere-wise…Quiet Leader is reaching out in innovative ways to bring some extraordinary sounds and textures together…and I think that’s something important to notice here. The end result of what he’s bringing to the table is that it’s not typical…it is different enough to sustain interest from others and still accessible enough for people to latch onto firmly; that’s one of the hardest mixes to master, and QL’s already done a fine job of that. I feel much the same about the incredible samples, edits, cuts and sounds in the music of “Illusions” featuring SB. Not only is the music awesome to listen to throughout, the vocals & flow of this track all really come out spit perfectly…definitely one of the strongest tunes I’ve heard so far when you combine all this with the atmosphere he’s created on “Illusions.”
Alright Kaiju! I’m calling you out brother! Here we go – you’re up once again being featured on “Memories” – and the survey says…
………it says you two together are addicted to your low-end beats yo! And while I appreciate that…each time we’re heading into this territory, those vocals are nearly disappearing entirely. Mix-wise, it sounds as if most of this might also be set straight-up to the center of the speakers…and sometimes just spreading out the vocals over the lefts & rights, or the music itself can really lead to additional clarity without affecting the impact you’re going after. And because I already love this guy’s attitude…I’m gonna throw the Quiet Leader here the ultimate bone…take the ‘shout-out’ advertisement of DJ-whatever-the-heck right out of there! I still have no idea how that ever became a ‘thing’ – and even if somehow, somewhere, somebody thought this was a great idea…WHY they decided that it could only ever be done by including that shout-out ten-times louder than the rest of the mix will always be beyond me. It’s not just QL here…that’s me speaking to you ALL out there…because this is never mixed-in right, and I know it’s not supposed to be – it’s supposed to be an ADVERTISEMENT at the end of the day whether they’d admit it or not…but I can firmly say I do not need to be broadcast to in the middle of jamming on a rad tune…”Memories” has plenty enough going for it that it doesn’t need to sell me anything else. But between the high-spike of the advertisement and the severity of the low-end on this cut…they’ve more than added challenges in their pursuit of an even-mix on “Memories,” essentially taking something difficult and making it even tougher on themselves. With the chilled-vibe of “Memories” thumping out the low-end, relaxing-pulse and easygoing atmosphere…you’d think they’d have made this one easier on themselves instead! Telling ya…I’m putting you two in separate corners from now on…
“Naptime” has a couple contrasting elements that work for & against it. One the positive-side, it works as an idea and musically…even the vocal-flow is arguably on-beat & on-point enough to get a pass from most…but what I’d encourage our Quiet Leader here to pursue, would be to embrace the power in the words and really own them with the confidence he’s written them with. In the case of “Naptime” where QL flexes credentials and reasons why he’s quickly making a name for himself, the energy in the lyrics drops right where he should be rising up to sound bigger & badder than ever before. Not enough to just write it – gotta own it when you’re throwing out a comment like that…otherwise it tends to take that impact away that lines like these could potentially pack.
The best combination of Kaiju and QL comes through “Pressure” – hell, even they acknowledge that they’ve got the volume up on this one! In comparison to the rest of the collaborations these two have taken on, “Pressure” gets it pretty damn close to where they’d want this to be. Excellent samples of electro-jazzy music that plays subtly in the background…that could potentially come up a little more in the mix…but other than that, both flows are solid…dig the lyrical-content on “Pressure” and approve of the way they puff & pass the lyrics & mic on this track.
The incorporation and featuring of SB seems to be solidly reliable for the vocal-flows as much as the music that ends up being on these cuts he’s rhyming on. “Revolution” makes use of what sounds like a latin-opera of some sort in the background as some of the best verses that SB and QL have put into their collaborative efforts. LOVED the breakdown…it’s short but a completely rad idea, quickly cut-in and right back to their grind. With the innovative combination of the music they’ve chosen on “Revolution,” it absolutely hits the mark for its ideas and the rap-verse finds a quick & complex flow that is delivered with style and precision. I hit up “Sunrays” after that, which also features SB…it’s another solid-effort between the two…chorus-hook needs a bit of work & a re-record but the idea is good; tone is just a little grating and a filter or slightly-lower tone might match the intention more. As it stands…great performance on the mic in the rap…”Sunrays” has one of the flows I found I appreciated most…confident, crisp and clear as the words twist and bend to the beat. The hook is strong, just needs a bit of smoothing-out…the verse has equal strength and overall “Sunrays” would definitely a sound I’d revisit in the studio to get it just-right.
Piano-led, edited to the nines and slick from every angle, “Trouble” ended my experience on a positive note – this was one of my favourites from Quiet Leader…the music once again is expertly assembled, innovative and has incredible movement for our main-man to rhyme to. “Trouble” is cut with a real impressive hand and ear for assembly…the kind of track that shows the true potential here with what Quiet Leader can bring to the game. I really did think this ended up being a highlight from this list of tracks…really did end the whole thang in style…I got lucky in a sense, it’s all in alphabetical order; but truthfully…Quiet Leader’s not all that far away from where he’s looking to get to. He’s got the material, he’s got the skills, he’s got assistance from a reliable crew of homies & emcees on the mic – now it’s all about taking that feedback into the studio and making every reason he’s here doing what he does come through clear as day over those recordings. He’ll get there though…no doubt.
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