Triple Cast – Triple Fantasy – Album Review
“Listen to this record and forget about me.” #HeyImaGrownAssManAndIllMakeMyOwnChoices
You’ll find that line in the hooks of “Forget About Me” at the beginning of Triple Cast’s new record called Triple Fantasy, released this year. As to whether or not you wanna take that advice, I’ll leave that up to you all as individuals. As for me? I’m a stubborn-ass bitch that doesn’t take direction very well and way too old & set in my ways to do anything I don’t wanna do – plus, even if I DID want to forget about Triple Cast, I don’t really have the option…I’ve got a memory like an elephant when it comes to music y’all, and you regular readers know it. Anyhow – obviously I’m just cracking wise here at the start – I’m cherry picking a line outta track one just to have some fun with you all & Triple Cast at the beginning of this review – but for real…I don’t just forget music when someone’s doing something different or something that stands out – and “Forget About Me” proves that Triple Cast is here to do BOTH of those things right away. LISTEN to this beat will ya? All cut up & chopped, stoppin’ and starting like it does? Were it not for the rhymes that eventually get dropped on top, the Electro beat driving this cut would easily be classified as IDM…which incidentally, is my favorite kind of Electro, and what I’d assume would be the hardest kind to rap over, given that you hardly ever hear a combination like this. It requires precision and a seriously ambitious emcee that knows they can pull it off – and that seems like exactly what we’ve got here in Triple Cast. Ultimately, having the rap added in steers this first cut towards the Conscious Hip-Hop genre with its gently-jazzy Electro-driven beat & the poetry spit into the m-i-c – but know that whatever it is you choose to define what you’re hearing as, I’m into it over here. Labels are labels, and I couldn’t give two shits about those – I just know what interests my ears, and this cut instantly does that.
YO! The work has been put IN here y’all – listen UP will ya? “Sheen From Jimmy Neutron” should pretty much blow your mind, straight up – I found this track freakin’ fascinating, full stop. Like I was telling ya from the start, you rarely, if ever, find beats as complex as these, with rhymes over top – for the simple fact that it just ain’t easy. You’ll listen to a track like “Sheen From Jimmy Neutron” and know exactly what I’m talking about. Would it have been easier for Triple Cast to simply grab a 4/4 beat and go to it? Of COURSE it would have! Would what you hear be as kickass or interesting if he did? Hell no! It’s artists like Triple Cast that are unafraid to get wild with it, explore new combinations of sound & style, and really mix it up in terms of what you know about Rap/Hip-Hop versus what you THINK you know about these genres, and show you what this music can really do. Like…I don’t wanna wreck the man’s street cred or anything, but this is ART y’all – and there’s really no other way to look at it or listen to it. It might be explicit, it might be raw, unfiltered, and stylistically slick – but it’s also REAL AF, NEW, and genuinely exciting as a result. “Sheen From Jimmy Neutron” is “slick like Rick” – every bit as fun as it is entertaining for sure, but also assembled with supreme intelligence and an artful approach that can’t be denied. So you end up with this combination that’s every bit as street as it is smart, you following me? Triple Cast is making an authentic effort to do things differently, and as a result, these cuts start standing out for all the right reasons right off the bat, and Triple Fantasy reveals a lineup of tracks with substance. The most you’ll find me conceding is that “Sheen From Jimmy Neutron” starts out louder than it finishes – but other than that, which is really not an issue at all, there’s really nothing at all to potentially change and nothing I’d advise switching up – you want the naturally wild instincts of an artist like Triple Cast to do what they do with as little input from us listening as possible – that’s how real ground gets broken.
“Stressin’” works well – it ushers in the shorter cuts, which generally dominate this particular record overall – there’s at least six of the thirteen that hover around the two-minute mark or less, which keeps everything moving quickly through your speakers. “Stressin’” not only points out what some of the stresses in life can be, but also points out the resilient spirit in the man on the mic as well – no matter how much is goin’ on, no matter how much “Stressin’” there might be behind the scenes – Triple Cast “will never break” – and I suspect that’s nothing but the truth based on everything I’ve heard over this past week or so that I’ve been listening to this record. When you’re THIS creative, your options are limitless – Triple Cast embraces the freedom that comes along with being an innovative artist – and if you’re listening closely to the lyricism & rhymes on “Stressin’” then you’ll hear it’s all about much more than the pursuit of fame & fortune. Trust me when I tell ya, you don’t make a record like this one with that in mind…at least, not as the top priority anyhow – Triple Cast would know that Triple Fantasy is an album that’s going to challenge a lot of listeners out there, but in the right way – the way that opens up minds to what’s possible, and provides the blueprint on how to move the whole damn genre forward.
Case in-point, “Green Light” keeps the sound comin’ atcha nonstop…and there’s no doubt in my mind that unless you’ve really got a grip on what real Hip-Hop/Rap is all about, chances are, Triple Cast along with guest-stars Koncept Jack$on & soupy2k have drawn an audible line in the stand at this point in the record that’ll separate those that can hang with it, from those that can’t. And there WILL be both, you can bank on that. Not only is that the case with all music more or less to begin with, but anything that’s as challenging to get your mind around as these beats & rhymes are, is bound to be in for that much more of an uphill battle when it comes to the mainstream audience. I’m always going to advocate on behalf of fearless artists like Triple Cast & the homies he’s brought into the mix – this is the kind of energy and innovation that music NEEDS to level-up. The reality of being ahead of the game is that it can take some time for people to catch on as they should – but if you’re patient & can wait that out, the rewards are certainly there. Listeners that can hang with a cut like “Green Light” and want to turn this UP as loud & proud as I do, will absolutely become loyal fans…and of course, over time, exposure, and experience – the net gets cast even wider. The skills on “Green Light” brought by everyone sharing the mic are undeniably impressive…the backing vocal sample works brilliantly to add in another hooks, the personalities on display all add dimension & depth…there’s a whole LOT to listen to, and there ain’t no disputing that – but if you’re the type that likes a ton of stuff goin’ on in the layers of the music you’re listening to, you’ll be straight up in awe of the true attention to detail put into a track like “Green Light.”
“MOVE FORWARD” essentially confirms a lot of what I’ve been talking about…pushing things to the limit & finding out what there is to be explored, you know what I mean? Far too many artists out there in this world play it way too safe – and Triple Cast has proven track after track on Triple Fantasy that there’s seriously no reason to fear blazing your own trail. The rhymes are complex but thought-provoking, the rhythm itself is precision…Triple Cast is what you’d consider to be a skilled mechanic, you feel me? The man knows how to operate in the studio lab & generate results – “MOVE FORWARD” doesn’t sit still, because the man himself never sits still, you feel me? LISTEN to the sample at the end of this cut for what’s REALLY real…Triple Cast will spell it all out there for ya right there when you hear it saying…”well well…trying to follow in my footsteps are ya? I usually charge for lessons you know.” This is what I’ve been tellin’ ya, and what you’ll hear happening easily within the bars & beats of a cut like “MOVE FORWARD” – this IS the blueprint for the future of Hip-Hop/Rap – so pay attention y’all. There’s a specific reason this cut is listed in ALL-CAPS…because there’s a real sense of urgency in the message. As much as I’d love to think the ALL-CAPS will do it…or that the blueprint of what’s being said here & HOW it’s being said will get everyone else out there off their ass and innovating their music as they should be – I’ve been in this game too long to know that most artists & bands are actually lazy as fuck, and won’t. That keeps the door open for artists like Triple Cast to make the impression they should on ya, because this dude’s always going to sound magnificently different and ALIVE compared to everything else, 100%.
For a track called “Pigeon Shit,” you’d probably be surprised that this might be the most accessible cut to be found in the first half of Triple Fantasy. At a firm two-minutes, Triple Cast reveals the relevant sound of the right here & now in full-effect, and proves that at any given moment, theoretically, the dude could take his music in a more straightforward direction that you’re all familiar with, and just dominate the game. It’s all about what we wanna get out of what we do as artists, you follow me? We can make things real easy on ourselves by sticking to the script, or we can mix things up and fearlessly “MOVE FORWARD” to whatever that next level may bring. I’ve personally got no less love for a track like “Pigeon Shit” as I do any of the others before it, though I can recognize that the creativity it takes to create the first five cuts is a bit more absent from this sixth one. Hard to argue with results when you hear’em, you feel me? “Pigeon Shit” is addictive AF, and still complex enough to keep us all engaged if the creative aspect of Triple Cast’s music is what you’ve been tuning into this record for, but also a bit more close to what listeners know in their Rap/Trap/R&B combos that it could draw more people in to listen. Would I have taken more than two minutes of this cut if I had the option to? Hellz YES I would! Hard to say how long Triple Cast could have kept the fluidity & flow of this track rolling along as smoothly as it does though – so in my opinion, dude’s played it smart by keeping it short, tight, and flawless in that regard; there’s simply nothing to complain about on a cut like “Pigeon Shit” at any point.
“Call It What U Call It” gets that innovative creativity flowing quickly once again, and enlists the skills of 4KPHIL in the mix for ya as well. Operating with extreme precision, pivoting & shifting gears with ease in the heat of real complexity – I honestly don’t think anyone out there listening to Triple Cast wouldn’t be able to give this man the props & respect he deserves…what he’s doin’ on the mic simply ain’t EASY. The skills are relentlessly audible at all times, consistent AF, and wildly interesting to listen to. There’s a bit more space in this cut when it comes to the music aspect…and that’s not a bad move to make every once in a while for sure, if only to let our minds catch up and absorb all the info, words, and sound we’re all taking in. There’s more involved on this record than you’ll hear in most by a country mile y’all – and that’s bound to wear on a few of the people out there that are only into the genres of Trap/Rap/Hip-Hop on a part-time basis – but for those that eat, sleep & breathe’em, you’ll be into every single word. 4KPHIL holds his own strongly, Triple Cast is as killer as he’s been throughout the whole record so far – and the beat is once again structured & designed to stand out brilliantly…”Call It What U Call It” – I just call it like I hear it – and I’d imagine this cut is bound to become a major favorite for many listening ears. From the looks of things online, “Call It What U Call It” was released as one of three singles in advance of the record coming out, so I’d say it’s safe to say I’m not the only one assuming people will dig this track.
“Surrounded*” is a cut that…hey…wait a minute here… You’re gonna drop an *asterisk down and not explain anything about it? WTF we doin’ with that homie? Guess it is what it is…who am I to object? “Surrounded*” it is then! There’s a chance that it’s got an asterisk next to the title in a similar way that when champions win awards & whatnot, it denotes some reason that exceptions have been made to allow that to happen…like as in, Triple Fantasy’s a pretty killer record, but “Surrounded*” was still included despite it not quite measuring up to the rest of what you’ve heard so far. Now…obviously that’s not the case…no one out there is gonna label their own record like that for that kind of reason, but yet, here we are, and my theory could still hold some water – “Surrounded*” is OK…a decent track on a record filled with much more noticeable & extraordinary material. I’m not opposed to it, I still dig what I hear well enough…it’s a lot more straightforward & nearly typical than the rest of what you’ll find, but not quite in that way that “Pigeon Shit” worked out earlier on…Triple Cast is a bit on the plain side with this track after how much creativity we’ve heard to this point. So yeah…”Surrounded*” is alright, and I dig the self-reflective nature of the lyricism, but it ain’t the track I’m writing home about.
Things get back on track quickly with “Medicinal Case” in my opinion. I’m still not gonna be the guy to tell ya that it’s as inventive, ambitious, or innovative as any cut on the first half of this record or the standards that Triple Cast has set for himself to live up to – but I feel like this track IS more along the lines of the accessibility you find in “Pigeon Shit” earlier on. People will respond & connect to the jazzy vibe this cut’s got at the core of it, like how we all tuned into Digable Planets back in the day. You say you’ve been “smokin’ too much weed” though Triple Cast? Since when is that a possible thing? The only thing I ever found at the bottom of an empty bag was an order for another full one – pronto. I’m giving the man a hard time…it’s tough to find things to pick on when it comes to a cut like “Medicinal Case,” which is essentially straight-up flawless from start to finish for the entire 1:41, so I’ve gotta give Triple Cast the gears about SOMETHING, right? For real though – I’d put “Medicinal Case” right up there with the most enticing cuts on this record – this is single-worthy sound without question, and the smartest choice out of the three tracks I’ve seen released in advance of Triple Fantasy coming out. From the piano to the saxophone in the sample, the swagger in the vocals, the snazzy beat you’ll find – everything about this track hits on a universal level that’s bound to bring in the listeners – definitely a highlight.
Bringing back the homie soupy2k for another round & a second appearance in the lineup of tracks on Triple Fantasy, “Harvey Dent” is probably right on the fence for me. There are a ton of things I love about the production and the performances…as for the beat/music…probably a bit under par if I’m being real with ya about this particular track. It’s a bit on the repetitive side is all. Sometimes that can turn out to be a great thing – if people love the sound, then you’re on completely solid ground, you feel me? If they don’t though, they’re in for a long ride through it…and subsequent spins through the record make that effect even more magnified. For myself personally, I felt like one spin through “Harvey Dent” was definitely enough…the rest afterwards were kind of like drawing out an experience that was already on the long side for what Triple Cast creates. The skills are still on display, the performances are honestly great – even the music MIGHT have worked if there was just a bit more diversity to this cut overall. Like…I get to that final switch that occurs at the end with mere seconds to spare, and I’m like – do THAT! Why that didn’t occur earlier on somewhere…I’m not sure I quite understand. “Harvey Dent” is a bit like a master-class in how to make a long moment longer, or stretch an idea to its very limits. I gotta call it like I hear it y’all…that’s what we do here in these reviews. Triple Cast is capable of more than what you hear in “Harvey Dent” – the main issue here, is that he knows that better than any of us. Sometimes you gotta step back from a record and be as objective as possible in terms of whether or not it lives up to the rest of what we hear in the lineup of songs. “Harvey Dent” has its moment. Singular.
“CHALLENGER APPROACHING” also has the same approach in that it’s a static design again more or less, but it gets easier approval given that the moment only lasts 1:21 this time around. Where Triple Cast is running into the main issue is that with each passing cut in the second half of this record, it seems like there’s less reasons to be found to return. I’m not necessarily saying we’re quite at the point of ‘hit it once and move on’ status – but we’re gettin’ too close to that for the creativity he’s proven to be capable of. The fact of the matter this time around, is that “CHALLENGER APPROACHING” is filled with such undeniable verbal swagger & subtle intensity that it’d be pretty damn tough to resist this track, if not outright impossible. Is there a whole lot to it? Nope! But all the right details are in place where you’d wanna find them. All I’m saying is that Triple Cast is starting to have one record with a split personality to it…once you show us what you can do, it’s our responsibility to hold ya to the standards of excellence you’ve revealed. “CHALLENGER APPROACHING” proves the professionalism is there from performance to production…but the ideas, depth, and diversity once again seems a bit on the thin side.
Where I suppose the worry creeps in is that Triple Cast might be relying too much on the fact that he can spit seriously flawless bars in the second half of this album. There’s no one that would dispute the skills this dude brings to the mic…but I feel like he’s let the sense of excitement fade with the absence of more adventurous beats & music fueling the latter half of Triple Fantasy. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll listen to a competent & capable emcee all day long any day of the week – but when it comes to the masses, that’s a whole different story…the reasons to return to Triple Fantasy have slimmed down immensely as the album plays on – and that’s something to consider if you’re Triple Cast. “I’ve got bars that’s facts bruh” – like I said, he’s well aware of the fact he can spit with the best of’em – and truthfully, I actually quite like what I’m hearing on “lost ego, no pressure” when it comes to the music too…I suppose what I’m getting at here, is that I’m not as convinced the man’s doing quite enough with this track or much of what’s found past “Medicinal Case.” All depends on what you’re going for as an artist of course – maybe Triple Cast is looking for those quick moments in time that deliver from start to finish in a short timeframe, and if that’s the case, then right on, high-fives all around. My argument to push back against that…not just for Triple Cast, but to anyone going that route, is that the less you give the people to remember whether it’s substance or timeframe, the easier things become to forget. It’s a fine line that takes years to perfect balancing on…you don’t want too little, you don’t want too much – but that’s the art of crafting an unbreakable record y’all, and it generally takes a lifetime to master, if it ever is at all.
“decent!” is. Not sure I’ve got a ton more to say about it than the title does. To be fair to me, Triple Cast ain’t even using capital letters anymore on these final cuts…so we’re clearly winding things down. It sounds good, so there’s that. There’s really very little on this record that you could argue doesn’t – there might be a few spots in this second half of Triple Fantasy that sound like they need more to them, but that might just be personal taste too – I’ve never once claimed I’ve got the same opinion of what I hear that everyone else does, and I only ever drop things to consider in the reviews that I write. Triple Cast has got a whole lot of skill – a ton of ideas that instantly spark our brainwaves with excitement – and towards the end of the album, shows that he can rock more straightforward material that locks in on accessibility by not getting too weird with it instead. Like I said…it’s almost like we’ve got two shorter EPs here overall, or two sides of the personalities in the music that lines this one record from Triple Cast. In any event, right up to “decent!” at the end, he’s giving ya plenty worth tuning in for – you might want MORE out of him at times, because he’s proven he’s capable of providing it…if you wanna blame ME for feeling that way, I’ve got broad shoulders and I can take it…but I’d say that’s probably much more on HIM than it is on me, ain’t it? The real bottom line is that he flexes the kind of professional finesse & creative innovation that could take him a long, long way in this whole music business…it’s up to him on how he wants to go about using that. “With great power comes great responsibility,” as the saying goes…we can be GREAT in this lifetime…or we can be “decent!” – and no one else gets to make that choice for us as artists & entertainers. A bit more focus, a bit more depth in the lineup or diversity within each track, and I’m fully confident Triple Cast gets to where he wants to go.
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