Young Orpheus – Distant – EP Review
Love the way this record begins…a real smart transition into the vocals leads the way into the new Young Orpheus EP on a song called “Concrete” as the man flips the tape on over before he brings it to the mic. It’s one of several qualities you’ll find on Distant…you’ll hear some newness in this emcee along the way as well – but considering it looks like Young Orpheus is just stepping into the spotlight in 2018, it’s only natural there’s still room to evolve and grow from there. For the most part, as you’ll hear in the flow of “Concrete” right from the drop, he understands rhythm and flow and keeps his metering on-point throughout his bars. Drags a syllable or two occasionally to make that happen, which is sometimes a stylistic choice, and sometimes the result of maybe needing to take a minute or two more to find a couple words that’ll get the same message across instead of just the one – but the trade-off in that scenario is that you also get lyricism that’s much more true to what Young Orpheus wants to actually get across. Really diggin’ the vibe of the beat & atmospherically-inclined music he’s got to work with on “Concrete” – and I also really dig the way that his words are strung together…you can see what he’s spittin’ – the imagery in his words is strong and the rhythm is consistently tight. All-in-all, whether the occasional syllable gets stretched or not – recognize that Young Orpheus puts a ton of words into a set of sixteens that would take a ton of skill to spit out all at once in a flow blazing by at this consistent of a pace…and the man clearly puts thought into how those words interact & the picture they paint.
Bringing it all to a more personal place on “Love Issues” – I felt like this was one of the cuts that really revealed a lot about the artist behind the mic. Once again, killer beat and vibe driving the music – amazing really…I love it. I’d probably dial Young Orpheus back a couple notches further on the volume to let that music become as big as it deserves to be…right now we’re in the star-remains-the-star mode throughout this record with him right up front in the mix, becoming the dominant sound on each cut. Again, the flipside of that is you get to hear each and every word clearly…and on a track like “Love Issues” that pays off for this emcee when he’s taking a defining moment on the mic to relay some of the personal details that have made him into the man he is today. As the title implies, the content is gritty, the story exposes the pain he’s been through…life ain’t all sunshine & rainbows and “Love Issues” definitely confirms that. What I really liked a lot about the writing on this cut was the insightful way that Young Orpheus ends up relating this story…how it ends up showing that “Love Issues” can be passed down from generation to generation and person to person that we come into contact with. The spoken word moments were an additional highlight in what’s been a solid cut all-around that genuinely connects; I always think it’s a good idea to be as real as possible & put as much of your own authenticity into your music as can be done – and Young Orpheus proves that theory to be correct here. Emotionally powerful, the lyrical details are once again on-point & provide a heartbreaking story you can follow.
Like…there’s a difference between the way that a song like “Love Issues” connects and the way that “Distance” doesn’t quite get there in that same way. Make no mistake, Young Orpheus is definitely not in a good mood here…he hasn’t made you the party record you’re speakers are looking for this summer – that’s just not what this is about. He’s been hurt, clearly, which you can hear on “Distance” – and I’ve said many times that regardless of what he feels about this record over time & the years to follow when looking back on it – chances are, the next records don’t get written unless this one DOES, you feel me? It’s a cathartic process that artists kinda gotta go through in order to experience that next breakthrough – once the mind is free, the craft gets a chance to evolve even further. Or I suppose, he might just continually get his heart stomped on in life and maybe we get a whole bunch of these EPs, that could be the case as well, time will tell homies. Anyhow…back to the point I was making at the beginning – don’t get me wrong, there are a ton of lines you can hear on “Distance” that are undeniably sincere; the difference I felt between this song and “Love Issues” was that you can hear more of an effort to be cool on this third cut, whereas the second track is bleeding raw like an open vein. 95% of the time, I think “Distance” displays a high-level of focus…there’s 5% that wanders by including a line or two that seems out of step with the rest of the emotional thread that ties this track together…so a bit of a mix here, but overall, obviously the math lines up for another positive experience and checkmark in the win column.
A shorter length ends up serving him extraordinarily well on “Been Awhile” – musically, full-salute to this man, he sure finds amazing sounds to work with…this cut is freakin’ exquisite to listen to yo! It’s like a piano sample that’s been slightly melted out in the sun and played back to us with a tight beat alongside it – really captivating to listen to. Lyrically, Young Orpheus, you’re making us all miserable by now – we’re with ya homie, we’ve got no choice. If you’re listening to the words he’s spittin’ on this record, these themes come at you with a consistent heaviness and cloud over this emcees head…and that can definitely end up having some wear & tear on us as listeners when there’s no end to that on the horizon. So where he’s saying he’s “tryin’ to be happy but man, it’s been awhile” – believe me, we agree with him at this point on the record, because if you’re paying close attention to what he’s been saying so far, you’re probably now feeling the exact same way. But he ain’t tellin’ jokes here y’all – he’s being real; despite the fact that it’s infinitely harder to get people to dig into your melancholy jams than anything up-tempo or in party-mode…I think those out there that dig their Rap reaching for a deeper level will appreciate what Young Orpheus brings to his music. Besides, “Been Awhile” kind of meets everyone halfway…you got the weed theme, which people love, you got hooks that shine & stand-out for all the right reasons, so that works too…and for those that really want to dig right into the content and storyline, it’s a cut that’ll give you that opportunity. Underneath the surface of the hooks and rhythmic flow…is one seriously unhappy emcee…to his credit, he’s passing that vibe on completely successfully to us as listeners…feels like it could literally start raining on the inside of this studio at any moment now.
“Lie For Me” is likely a bigger ask of most listeners. The stylistic spin on the hooks will work for some & be tougher for others…and overall, the focus seems to wander a bit more into a freestyle thought kind of direction without any particular endgame in mind. Personally, I can get behind the hooks…I think they’ll take some time to grow on certain people, but there’s personality there that works in his favor. Verse wise, he’s a bit more uneven than on some of the other cuts by comparison…but that seems to have a lot to do with the slow-tempo vibe that fuels this chilled-out track; that extra space in the sound really makes those drawn-out syllables more noticeable, or when the energy drops out as a line trails off. All of this could be intentional…in which case, there’s not much to be said…it is the way it is in that scenario…but in my opinion, there’s a noticeable difference in the approach & sound on “Lie For Me” that feels like this was either the final track to make the record or slightly rushed somehow compared to the rest of Distant. That being said, on a musical level alone, there’s redemption on every track on this entire record…every song has a completely amazing beat to work with – and Young Orpheus can also be consistently relied upon to bring several bars that are more than worth listening to each time.
A slight break in the clouds with “Shout Out” – which I think everyone out there listening will appreciate at this point on the record. It took six tracks for Young Orpheus to put a bit of sunshine into Distant, and he does that with impressive energy in his flow as he shouts out some homies and people that have been there along his journey. Twisted beat & sample on this cut – but again, absolutely wicked to listen to. I felt like Young Orpheus really found the vibe on this track…that inspired energy you hear from him on the m-i-c comes from the creativity you’ll find in the music here…it’s switched up the entire vibe perfectly and has this emcee sounding spectacular in a complex flow that’s delivered flawlessly. Lyrically, “Shout Out” is pretty damn rad the whole way through…I ain’t gonna harp on one or two lines every time just to have something to say…best way I can put it is that some of what Young Orpheus says comes out sounding more realistic than others at times. The majority of “Shout Out” sounds like he’s genuinely livin’ it, those are the lines that connect the strongest. Rhythm & groove wise though, you can’t argue with “Shout Out” – the vocal flow on this cut is insanely cool and never lets up once it starts.
“Love Game” has a bit of a meltdown to end the Distant experience. Loose hooks, hazy vibe, lyrics that have a weird mix of being ultra-direct and then bizarrely sincere…the final track of the record starts out pretty focused, sounding more straight-ahead than where it’ll end up, dividing this last moment into two main halves. First half comes out sounding smooth…dig the use of the effects on his vocals and the emotion in Young Orpheus’ tone throughout the verses. I mean…here’s the thing…this is what I think it is that comes out strange to me…people fuck…I get that…but Young Orpheus only FUCKS – you get me? Anytime he uses the word, it’s such a pronounced event and he absolutely makes the effort to make sure it comes out sounding hard each time…and as much as men might not like to admit it, sometimes there’s a time to go soft. A track like “Love Game” is that moment…he can be fuckin’ without FUCKIN’ – you know what I mean? We’ll still get the point homie, I promise ya. All that being said, it does add more details to this tale of life & love that Young Orpheus has been weaving since track one, once again revealing majorly personal details that get you right into the mindset of the man behind the mic. It’s definitely not as easy or comfortable place to be…Young Orpheus is definitely struggling in many ways upstairs in the thoughts roaming through his dome…Distant is the kind of record that genuinely makes you worry about a homie & his health. Like I said earlier on though…he’s through it now – that in itself, is an achievement; making a record like this takes major strength…each day these powerful emotions, thoughts, and feelings become less overwhelming…the healing process begins & life offers up a whole bunch of new opportunities – and because this record got made, he’ll be around to make many more.
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