For those who follow me on social media, know that today, I released the tracklistings for The Cassette. The thing about mixtapes, in general, is that you get little to no explanation for the project. Even though this mixtape doesn’t have a general overall concept, I was still intentional about what I did on this project. My overall goal of this mixtape was to say: 1. Forget a general concept. I’m gonna be free and have fun on this one. And 2. It’s time for me to step my bars (lyrical ability) up. The name of the mixtape actually came from me freestyle-talking on the intro track of Side B. Without initially knowing, I said “Welcome to the mixtape…Side B.” I started to delete it and redo the intro, but then it dawned on me how perfect that was. It was that “mistake” that I started to form the mixtape. I actually finished this mixtape around the last week of October (2015), and I’m on to the next project as we speak. But anyway…The Cassette: Side A – Track for Track. Without further ado, I would like to break down to you my thought-process behind each track of Side A (Side B will be in another post):
- Alarm Clock
I believe first impressions are very important. I needed a track that introduced, not only Side A, but the entire “Cassette.” I wanted to let my loyal supports/fans know that this mixtape is different than the previous mixtape (Married With Children) and at the same time, address any possible haters. The instrumentation of this track gives it a serious/bold tone. There is an alarm clock sound intertwined with some voice distortions and eerie sound effects that gives the illusion that you are teetering between deep sleep and lite sleep. It’s as if this track is a dream, but the lyrics are telling you to wake up. It plays well into the overall meaning behind the track. I wanted to throw out my musical/rap resume and break down any stereotypes that I’m JUST this “family” guy or “art” guy. “Stop sleeping on my lyrical ability” is the statement I wanted to start off with, right out the gate.
- Running The Track
Some people run or jog around the track to warm up. This is what this track is doing: warming me up. The music lingo gives the word track a double-meaning. I was looking for an uptempo instrumental that would allow me to rap a little faster than normal, but not too fast. My lyrics are doing the running on this proverbial track. I also wanted to let my supporters/fans know that I do this for them and thank them for supporting me. (I had to smooth things out after my stern approach on the previous track, lol)
- Full Circle
There’s a spitting sound effect that blends the previous track in well with this one. (The sound effect is at the very end of the previous track). My reasoning behind it is simple. Now that I have warned you all about sleeping on my lyrics, and now that I have warmed up by doing a few lyrical laps around the track, I’m about to spit. The word “spit” in the hip hop/rap lingo means “he/she is about to rap very intense now.” The name of the track has a double-meaning. The first, and least important, meaning ties in with the previous track. You “run the track” and complete that lap, you essentially ran it “full circle.” The second meaning, and main intent, is told in the lyrics itself. The setting is me in my senior year of high school, in Richmond, VA. In grade school, everyone (students, teachers, relatives, etc.) would talk about the size of my head (big head; little body). So that’s where the track begins. The rest of the track is me explaining what happened to me from the end of high school til now. I left Richmond, went to college in another state, and now my “big head” (playfully speaking) moved back to Richmond, hence the “full circle.”
- The Opening Act
Haha…there’s an interlude prior to this track that blends throughout this one. I can’t tell you what it is because I don’t want to give it all away, but it wasn’t planned. What I originally planned was waaaaay lamer than this, lol. I lucked up on this idea. My approach to this track is basically now that I got all that pent up stuff off my chest in the first three tracks, I can now start the mixtape. This instrumental had the big band/Ella Fitzgerald type feel I was looking for. I still managed to gloss over some more of my musical resume on this track, firmly letting you know that I’m not a rookie, but overall, it’s a loose/fun track. Aaaaaamen.
There’s an interlude prior to this track as well. It sets the tone for this track that speaks on the stereotype of rappers. For people who know me personally, they know what kind of life I live. Heck, even if you didn’t know me, you can tell by my selfies that I’m not a street dude. In fact, I know a lot of mainstream rappers who rap about guns, drugs, and girls but ain’t really “bout dat life.” In this song, I playfully act like I’m “bout dat life,” using sarcasm and wit to drive my point home.
- (Clothes)Lines & (Arm)Bars
I have a few favorite tracks on this mixtape. This is definitely one of them. I love this track from the beat to the hook to the concept. There is, yet again, another interlude. I won’t give it away, but I’m sure most people can appreciate it. (The interludes are strategically placed at the end of the previous track, so that when you play it back, you can skip past it and go the next track if you wish.) The concept behind this song is playing on the fact that the rap game is just as dramatized and have larger-than-life characters just like the WWE (wrestling). (I’m a big WWE fan, by the way.) I bring those comparisons to life on this track.
- Get Them Hands Up [live]
One of my best friends told me that he likes me better as a storyteller. There are a few tracks on this mixtape that I subconsciously tell a story, but on this one, it was intentional. I also wanted to try my hand in fictional storytelling. The hook to this song cleverly appeases both the casual listener and the intentional listener. Oh yeah, and it was performed live too, but I’m not gonna tell you where I performed it. *wink* I even switched up the track mid-way to add to the liveness. The track was motivated by J. Cole’s “Tale of Two Cities” track.
- Burn It To The Ground
This track is an encouragement track, despite the vicious name. It’s a borderline anthem track that is designed to help people gain courage and face adversities. No fear type of song. If Side A was a church service, this would be the sermon. Since this particular instrumental was semi-popular, I really wanted to make it my own. There are no ceilings. There is no box. There is no limit. That’s this song in a nutshell.
- DO NOT LISTEN TO THIS SONG!
I’m not saying anything about this track. Just don’t listen to it…*wink*
This is probably one of my favorite concepts for a song…ever. The setting is in a café, around a group of friends, playing a friendly game of (see title of song). I didn’t want an outro because there is a Side B, so I needed a track that would serve as an intermission. This song is perfect.
Well, that’s my summary of all the tracks on Side A. Be on the lookout for my writeup on Side B, as well as the single that drops on my birthday (12/18) as well as the actually mixtape release(s) on 1/6 and 1/20.READ “SIDE B” COMMENTARY NEXT