MixTape Review: EarthTone – New Balance
It’s no secret that EarthTone is one of my favorite gay rappers. I’ve referred to him as the G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time) gay rapper in a previous post and selected his video for the track Fuck Is You as the best of the Top 20 LGBT Hip Hop and R&B videos of 2014. Obviously I’m an EarthTone fan. So the day when his new mixtape New Balance dropped, I eagerly listened to it in its entirety. Since then, I had been reluctant (or lazy) to do a review. Admittedly my expectations were low after I heard the intro and viewed the teaser to the upcoming release. Looking at my text messages to my compadre Nick Delmacy during my initial listen, I had three reactions.
My First text to Nick: “Ok EarthTone’s new mixtape is cool. It just so happens the song he pre-released (the intro) was wack to me.”
While listening to the intro, I was awaiting a bass line to drop but to my disappointment, none did. Instead, we got a violin loop over the entire track…meh.
Examining EarthTone’s flow and style one can easily reminiscence of 90’s hip hop which I pointed out in my original piece about him. However, on New Balance it kinda sounds a tad bit dated. New Balance has some nice beats and production, which is why early on in my listen, I was thinking the intro (track one) was a fluke.
Track two, Illionaires featuring Keef and track three, No Love featuring F. Virtue instantly got repeat listens due to the lyrics and their major head nod factors. Track four, Belligerent (video below) and track six, Marinate, have that 90’s hip hop feel to them and both tracks do go hard; nonetheless they both have that “dated” feel I referred to above.
My Second text to Nick: “Well slight correction. His songs with other artists bring the songs down WTF.”
There are nine cameos on New Balance and in my opinion EarthTone easily outshines most on this mixtape. I think it’s cool he shows love to other LGBT hip hop artists by featuring them on his release but the different flows and styles clash, especially on tracks six, seven and eight. The exceptions are Keef and F. Virtue on the aforementioned Illionaires and No Love. I feel like with track six Small Circle, is where things go downhill, but not necessarily how you may think. Again, no problems with EarthTone and the production – they’re fire – it’s the featured artists that detract from the song. Thankfully the production and the hook push the track forward and still make it a worthy listen.
My Third text to Nick: “Just fuck everything I just said…I don’t understand what I think.”
Track seven Rush, track nine Distracted and track ten, FAG (remix) undeniably pull down New Balance. Track nine, Distracted featuring Christette Amoure is the bottom of the barrel of all the tracks. It’s bad not because of EarthTone’s lyrics (which are very witty) but because Amoure just sounds really bad singing the hook. For some reason the singing just made me feel confused as to how the singing made the cut and subsequent release.
The track listing on SoundCloud (which was sent out promotionally) currently only has nine tracks even though the original listing had ten tracks. The missing track Seedless (originally track eight), pays homage to Lady Jane over smooth jazzy productions and is a very nice addition to the New Balance experience. So if you download New Balance, make sure you get all ten tracks and don’t miss out on Seedless.
After a second full listen, I regret not giving a review sooner. New Balance still feels like I’ve eaten an okay meal but a bad dessert decision, lessened the entire experience. Six cool songs out of ten isn’t bad. Which means I would recommend the restaurant to others, just don’t have the dessert. So grab a knife & fork and dig in.
Listen to all 10 Tracks here.
Check out other EarthTone music here.
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