“…whenever someone tells me that they are a musician of some sort, I’m already prepared to hate whatever it is that they do. I’m rarely wrong...”
Wise words from a decent man. The music business – specifically hip-hop – is so flooded with bullshit, and “rappers” looking at it is a quick hustle, that it’s hard to NOT feel skeptical whenever someone claims to be an “artist”. EVERY wannabe artist claims that he has the “next hit” or he’s just needing the right person or persons to hear his music for him to be the next dude “on”. Yeah. Right. There’s only so many ways to tell the same story, and if YOU can’t tell it in a method more clever than the NEXT guy, then you’re wasting YOUR time AND the time of the people you harass outside the mall, in the barbershop, etc. “Get a job, DHL, FedEx, UPS is hiring!” – Killer Mike
So, I’m on Twitter today (@Aftashok – if you’re on and not already following me – you SHOULD), and the homie @Hollywood_Trey posted the words that I used to open this blog with, and then proceeded to mention that he had subsequently been pleasantly surprised by a mixtape that he had been given, entitled “The Relationship” by rapper @IcetheVillain, available as a free download HERE. Normally i would be skeptical of such a claim, but seeing the passion Trey seemed to have in praising the tape, and seeing as how I’d been disappointed by most recent music, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to take a chance and give the tape a listen. I couldn’t have done my ears a better favor. The mixtape is one of the better-constructed pieces of work that I can say I’ve heard this year; I’d rank it just maybe a notch below the best mixtapes I’ve heard, i.e. So Far Gone, The Warm Up, Reservoir Dogs, Back To the Feature, etc. It HAS to be something if I'm actually moved to write about it correct?
“The Relationship” is a concept. It’s not to be listened to and dissected on a track-by-track basis; a listener must digest the entire body of work as one. It’s the story of a relationship: from the first approach, conversation, and exchange, to the “infatuation/honeymoon” stage, to the jealousy/insecurity phase, to the actual bad breakup, to the final acceptance and moving on stage. Ice lyrically drives along he actual story and concept moves fluidly, while the beats (all helmed by the producer LCD, also known as @BoutDatMoney) compliment the delicate and complex emotions found in each stage of the relationship, from the braggadocio/club candor feel of “So Official” to the soft, tender romanticism of “Softest Place” onto the paranoia and mystery behind “Voicemail” to confrontation in “Lies” and then a back-to-the-drawing-board, restarting the process feel of “Final Words”. All of the complex emotions found in the time period of a relationship leading to a breakup are found at the appropriate times: initial attraction, curiosity, attraction, lust, the “maybe this is love?”, then the acceptance of love, to the insecurity, jealousy, suspicion, enlightenment, anger, sadness, and the final stages of acceptance and moving forward.
The lyricism is at a high-level on the tape also; everything is pretty cut-and-dried, stripped to the bone, raw emotion, save for the metaphorical “Rebound”, which pulls off its own separate theme, driven by the basketball-bounce beat, yet also remains within the concept of the full body of work. There’s wit and punchlines sprinkled throughout also, but not to the point that one becomes distracted from the purpose of the songs and the tape itself. The only misstep, in my opinion, would be the aforementioned “Rebound”. Although the theme of the song does mesh with the overall theme of the project, the song just doesn’t quite sit well with me; the basketballs bouncing in the instrumental are more disorienting than anything. I could possibly maybe complain about some of the choruses, but i believe I would just be nitpicking at that point. It’s honestly refreshing to hear a full project from a rapper who was previously unknown to me and only have said minor disagreements with certain components of the full body. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more material from Ice the Villain in the future.
Ice the Villain can be found on Twitter and at http://www.icethevillain.com . He can be reached by email HERE for songwriting or other inquiries. The producer who helmed “The Relationship” is LCD aka Bout Dat Money who can be reached on Twitter also, or at http://www.boutdatblog.com . He can be reached by email HERE for production/mixing inquiries.