Raw Soul – In Another Life… – EP Review
“Can’t deny that your boy can make a jam, strawberry jelly comin’ straight from the man…” #truth!
But you already KNOW, don’t ya? You tuned in to the SBS Podcast already and checked out a sample of what Raw Soul is all about through our first impressions & introduction to this dude from our old home back in BC, where he’s based out of in Vancouver. We played his cut called “Fountain Of Youth” from his latest record In Another Life… & talked about the man…if you haven’t listened yet, click right here.
What I didn’t tell ya on our show, was that Raw Soul would be the first to admit to any flaws you might find on the In Another Life… EP, and credit where credit is due – that takes a certain courage to say to begin with. There’s a large part of me too that wants to remind Raw Soul that unless he’s got someone poking him with a sharp stick to get things done, he’s got all the time in the world to perfect the art if he’s so inclined. That being said, when you run up against quotes like “I called it that because maybe in another life I would have actually pursued music seriously. In this one, it’s a passion/hobby” – this whole review thing I do becomes a whole other deal…I could recommend things like I’d normally do, but it seems like this dude is happy enough doing what he does already…& if it sounds like this, he should be.
“Lord Of The Flies” starts out the record in a different gear than many of the tunes you’ll find on this whole record, in sound & in the attitude that drives it. In what’s nearly a complete 180 degree turn or contradiction to that quote you just read up top, it’s tracks like “Lord Of The Flies” that clue you into the fact that this all does mean more to Raw Soul than the mere safety he’d find in claiming something he clearly loves doing is simply a hobby. What’s real is that this EP was somewhat cobbled together in the sense that he’s gathered existing material to make it, as opposed to building it first from the ground floor of a concept – and when you do that, you can end up retroactively adding pieces to the puzzle of all kinds. Hence you get this first cut, “Lord Of The Flies,” that still kinda confirms that Raw Soul isn’t in this for the money or the fame or whatever…but you can also still hear the undeniable fire & hunger of this emcee at work too…with the presence, personality, and potential to do whatever he WANTS to do. As he’ll tell ya direct in this first cut, it’s not like this is his first rodeo…he’s been rapping for a while now. In the world of Spotify & all that, we’ve got releases that date back to last year…and I’d imagine that based on what he’s been spittin’ that his material goes back further than that. So! Let’s be generous. Let’s say it goes back…hmm…five – no – TEN years! Hypothetically, of course…because I don’t really know the facts. And we’ll say he…again, for this scenario…let’s just say he got a super late start and didn’t even hit his first bars until he was twenty five. Twenty-five plus ten…lemme get my calculator out here…that’s thirty five (sorry, I’m terrible at all math). Now let’s assume that the man is gonna live to 100, just the way he’s been keepin’ it on the mic – 35/100 now resembles a third of a life, more or less – and I’m supposed to believe that’s an age where if you had this kind of talent that Raw Soul has, that NOW is the time where you’re like, meh, that’s cool I’m got this awesome ability & all, but you know, I’d rather be…what? A banker? A truck driver? A stunt man? What are we doin’ here Raw Soul? What is it that would have you hearing what I’m hearing and go – yup, this is a hobby & nothing more? What is it that you’re hearing that would stop you from pursuing “music seriously,” with all this encouraging stuff goin’ on that ANYONE could hear in your music from the simple push of the play button?
My point is y’all…don’t go closing any doors that should stay open…I know I wouldn’t if I had this guy’s talent, but maybe that’s just me. I just don’t know how anyone goes about reaching or conquering their goals if you don’t end up makin’ any to begin with, you feel me? I ain’t gonna lie…this is all a concern to me, as a peer in the scene, as a listener, as a fan…you name it…but by that same token, just because you end up making something as a hobby or a passion doesn’t mean you don’t have your heart in it – in fact, most times ya do. Most of the rest of anything surrounding the music like you’ll hear is probably much more likely an attempt to stay grounded or humble or whatever…but that ain’t my job or role here. My job is to remind people like Raw Soul that the OTHER option is the 9-5 bruh; but if that’s more appealing than your dreams are, then hey man, I’ll back right off I promise…have at that cubicle & punch-in hoss.
To me, I listen to how “Lord Of The Flies” starts this record out flexing that combination of verbal finesse & wordsmith’s craft…I hear how Raw Soul himself sounds invested in the moment and in getting the best outta himself onto these bars at the beginning – and I hear him succeed greatly in doing that…and then I still have to wonder about whether or not he is pulling punches, or if he’s got more in the tank that he’s maybe holding back because it’s a hobby and not something he’s pursuing “seriously?” I kinda have to hope Raw Soul knows something altogether different than I do – as far as I know, we get this one life & this one shot at it…and I’m sure as you can tell from this write-up here, I take EVERYTHING seriously…probably too much on the opposite end of that scale really. But what do I know? I’m just a guy with a high-school degree & nothing more, that’s been off the grid & outta the 9-5 for more than a decade outta the two he’s been ‘working’ for, who refuses to believe we can’t make this life what we want it to be – for any of us – you included, Raw Soul. So when he says “I hope you feel it” at the very beginning on the way into “Lord Of The Flies,” you can bet your ass that I DO – and if any of you out there have got this twisted somehow & aren’t reading this first part of the review like full support, read it all over again. Raw Soul has fierce presence on the mic, strong conviction in his words at his most intense, and genuine personality that connects at his most humble – and you get a solid mix of all that & more right off the drop as he hits the bars of “Lord Of The Flies” & proves this should be his full-time gig.
Y’all regular readers know I don’t waste my time pumping tires where it’s not required – so take that to heart Raw Soul, I mean what I say. I get where he’s coming from to a degree…you can kinda argue things from both sides when you listen to a track like “Fountain Of Youth” that we played on the SBS Podcast just a couple days back…on one hand, you’ll find bars that work the rhythmic angle and play within the scheme by finding the matching words to fit, and you’ll also find others that say exactly what he’s looking to say. You can look at it from the side of the argument that he’s staying on script for what real Hip-Hop is all about – you get that inherent mix for the vast majority of any crew or artist you’ll hear out there – but sure, there’s more room to focus there if he’s looking to sharpen his game further, I’ll concede that. Personally, I think he’s got it all workin’ just fine from the m-i-c, and the man finds exceptional beats & music to rap over…I’m cool with a spread-out mix of words that drifts between what’s entertaining & what’s real. To me, what’s always going to matter perhaps more than anything else when it comes to Rap, Hip-Hop, Trap…hell, damn near any music I listen to really – is whether or not you CAN make us “feel it” – and Raw Soul is particularly gifted when it comes to that department. In my own humble estimation, he gets to make that choice over whether or not to acknowledge he’s got an X-factor that most just don’t have & embrace that…and of course, in my opinion, he should be. “Fountain Of Youth” is stellar to listen to…slick bars, jazzy beat, rhythmic flow, and for the most part, he’s got something substantial to say…I mean, it’s essentially all there. Hooks? YUP – he’s got those too – the chorus of “Fountain Of Youth” is loaded with’em…strong ones that are guaranteed to stick with ya. I’ve been spinning In Another Life… for at least a couple weeks now, and as I mentioned, we jammed this joint on our show as well…I can vouch for this cut firsthand & know that it has true lasting power. Each time it’s come on in rotation, “Fountain Of Youth” has always been welcomed with open arms & ears.
While I think Raw Soul’s original assessment of this record having a flaw in it here & there wouldn’t be heard at all by the everyday listener out there, I do get what he means. I find a few spots in the lyrics of “Floating” that I’d be willing to bet he probably would have liked to have added another syllable or two into along the way, but again, the inherent professionalism in this dude never really drops the ball when it comes to the quality overall. As in, the vast majority of anything really DOES prove that “your boy can make a jam” without question – personally, I dig that you’ll hear Raw Soul drift through his thoughts like it’s all a stream of consciousness coming through the mic…you get a good mix in this regard. Like, take the very beginning of “Floating” for example – you’re not even thirty seconds in before you’ve already experienced the positivity at the start, the humor he’ll toss in every so often, the sincerity he possesses, and the introspective somewhat self-deprecating style he tends to view his life through – how’s that for range homies? Make no mistake though, as natural as it sounds & feels when we listen, it’s still rehearsed & ready to roll, complete with all the bells & whistles like the clever sampling of Obama in the house to back him up on one of the most significant points Raw Soul will make along the way – his cuts are put together as tight as tight can be, even with as loose & organic as they can somehow seem. Raw Soul has also enlisted the talents of Dana Hernandez to drop the hooks into the chorus of “Floating” as well, which was a great call – she brings a truly unique vibe to her moment in the spotlight & diversifies the versatility you’ll find in this lineup even more as a result, providing more depth to this set of six. No joke though y’all…there’s an audible dose of single-worthy magic in the mix here between this pair of skillful artists on the mic with the bright spirit of the melody & crisp snap of the beat guiding them along.
Performance-wise, you’ll find the most intense moments from Raw Soul come through with resounding confidence on “Land Of The Snakes” – it’s my least favorite production-wise compared to the rest on this record, but it’s definitely one of the stronger cuts on the EP when it comes to the collaborations you’ll find & personalities on the mic. Won00 drops WILD bars onto this cut and follows up what’s certainly one of Raw Soul’s sharpest moments as well…they’re both amped-up in their own ways, and they both bring a completely different sound of their own/dimension to the depth of this track. As far as hooks go? Please y’all – “real recognize real” as the man will tell ya – “Land Of The Snakes” has bulletproof hooks that deliver. While the punch on that main beat proves to be tough to harness in the mix and overpowers a bit of the rest that I wanna hear like the jazzy saxophone in the distance at times…at the end of the day, I am definitely not complaining when the rest of the results come out as incredible & inspired as they do. Whatever it is here, I’d be taking a good look at it if I was Raw Soul…because whether it’s the collaboration with Won00 that brings it outta him or something else, you’re getting a solid dose of some of his very best here…especially in those hooks yo! “Whenever I show up, I’m right on time” as Won00 will tell ya – and he gives you every reason to believe that, handling his business like a serious professional and bringing a spectacularly memorable dose of character to this song & to the record through the uniqueness he has. “Land Of The Snakes” has the advantage of a fantastic collaboration that completely works, but also the fact that it goes for a much more aggressive beat & stylistically slick vibe that stands out for all the right reasons. Awesome breakdown in this cut as well that has Won00 hittin’ it a cappella by the end, right before they bring back the ultra-addictive hooks that make “Land Of The Snakes” one of the most memorable cuts you’ll find on In Another Life… and a track you’ll continue to come back to. I still feel like it could benefit from a slight remix to enhance the music and sink-in the beat & vocals into the atmosphere a bit more – but I really ain’t complaining at all…sometimes things come out how they come out, and if this is what we get for now, I’ve got no problem whatsoever jamming this cut as loud & proud as my speakers will take it.
“Missing This” has got the man deep in the feels…Raw Soul is right up in his head here, thinking internally, and letting us in on a bunch of stuff that’s on the inside that obviously needs to get out. Raw Soul’s workin’ with a really classic style of Hip-Hop & true-to-the-style flow here…and I’m honestly lovin’ it – he’s takin’ me right back to the days of Biz Markie and what made that legend’s music so pivotal. I’m not talking anything nearly as extreme as the exaggerated performance he put into his mega-hit “Just A Friend” – I’m talking about the genuine personality & sincerity that came through the way he approached the mic, and that addictive mix of swagger & natural vibes he was capable of – that’s what you’ll find you get from Raw Soul here on “Missing This.” The warped sound of the piano melody is one of my favorite jams he’s got in the music supporting him on this record…and even though the bulk of this particular cut is much more introspective & downtrodden than the majority of In Another Life…, you’ll find it still has a creatively inspired core to it that’s actually kinda uplifting as well. Call it the effect of the art of being real – Raw Soul lets you get to know him a bit more through his words on “Missing This” and gives us insight into a lot of what’s important & what matters to him on this cut. Once you get to the mid-section of this track, chances are you’ll find you identify & relate to what he’s rappin’ about – “Missing This” becomes all about missing that spark, the energy, the JUICE you need to be at your very best…falling so far to the point where you’re wondering not just where it went, but if it’ll ever come back. I know I’ve been there personally…I’m sure that many of you have been too…the highs & lows y’all – we all go through’em. But I just wanna point out the fact that, arguably even at his lowest here when it comes to his mindset & mood – looky look at what it is that Raw Soul reaches for to pull him outta all that will ya? Spoiler alert – it’s MUSIC. Therapeutic, and cathartic yes – but it’s also a strong indication that this is where someone really belongs, wouldn’t ya say? Music is the natural state of Raw Soul – you might hear him question that FACT in the words of “Missing This” – but him being here to say all this on this cut to begin with, is all the proof you need of what I’m claiming to be equally true as well.
“Penny For Your Thoughts” brings it home and finishes the quick set of six with a cut that Raw Soul could rely on, with one of the advance singles released prior to the In Another Life… EP. Listen to the man break it down for ya in the middle of this cut yo! That’s an inspired moment without question – the natural personality of Raw Soul is always guaranteed to connect, and it’s spots like that that completely prove it. “Or maybe it’s just, you know, some dude spittin’ what he wants to spit…just air out some shit” – as he’ll try to convince ya…he’s kind of the master of the undersell when it comes right down to it. Which might very well play into his future, because when you’re doing that & you’ve got skills like he does, you end up over-delivering on all our expectations, and continually surprising us with something new along the way. That being said, I think Raw Soul is actually exceptionally self-aware, knows right where he’s at, knows what tiny things he can twist to evolve & improve…and deep down, knows he’s onto something special that works for him, and connects to us as listeners. All the clues you need to confirm this, are right here in this final track…like when he’ll tell ya direct that “I continue to scribble these thoughts in hopes of one day, maybe, leaving a mark…” – we SEE you Raw Soul – and we know that this is who you really ARE. In my opinion, he’s also capable of exactly that – if he wants to make that his goal and set his mind to making his mark in music a permanent one, he’s got all the skills to make that happen. “Sometimes I feel cursed with a powerless feeling” – and hey, sometimes we all do – but I can guarantee ya, Raw Soul isn’t feeling that way when he’s got the mic anywhere near him – I bet ya it doesn’t even cross his mind when he’s in the grip of the flow & doin’ his thang…cause it’s entirely natural to him, and where the man belongs. LISTEN to these opening bars on “Penny For Your Thoughts” and try to tell me otherwise – but just know that I ain’t listening to ya; any set of functional ears would have respect for the way this dude crafts his thoughts and the sheer selection of words he puts into his bars. “The meal is as good as the sauce is – and I got sauce” – you see? He knows.
Look…I’m not making any claims that In Another Life… is a groundbreaking record, and neither is the main man on the m-i-c – but there’s no denying that it’s a stellar set of six cunningly crafted cuts that’ll never let ya down. What I do hear, is every reason to continue, whether it’s as a hobby, or full on professionally – the only person out there putting a cap on the limits of Raw Soul IS Raw Soul…the rest of us see green lights ahead and hear music designed to be turned up.
Find out more about Raw Soul from his official pages below!
Magical Multi-link: https://linktr.ee/rawsoular
Join the thousands of bands & artists reviewed by sleepingbagstudios by clicking here!