Remember when we said, “Fuck your A&R!”? See, technology’s been allowing the would be artist to empower themselves. So much so that they have often become their own cunning agent in repertoirin’ themselves to the public. It is that they sell out before the selling has even become in…play.
But the theory of the A&R is what I miss. That art breeds all type of artists. The Black diaspora has an abnormal need to express ourselves at every turn. And now we all can try to make some kind of music. But the rates of our growing illness still won’t be the same. And when I get records, I see brothers and sisters at different stages. Who deserves a listen? A purchase? A memorialized place in the cannon of the special? Who needs to go back to the lab? Who’s needs developing?
These answers don’t have absolutes but they can be useful with criteria and insight. And if a brother swam the 9000 miles of song, that is, collections of over 50,000 songs, at least half Hip Hop, written enough on them to liner note hundreds of them, cataloged it with new perspectives and understanding, then let them right. And I get honored with the heavy task to skillastrate on them. But it isn’t a linear process…you see a brother climb a mountain but the mic isn’t mastered on only one mount.
Mic Mountain, a Boricua brother in love with break beats and the best of MCing, is still in search of mastery. Since I’ve heard of him half a decade ago with his Warparth 2 LP, he isn’t an A&R’s dream. So much so that the potential I saw there I absolutely couldn’t see on a stretched out double LP, Warpath 3 from 2016. His way of MCing is filled with all the flaws MF Doom’s made on his classic debut Doomsday. The difference is there often is no hint of intention. So I left the brother to try again.
It was the Thundercats mixtape he released in 2017, superbly sampling the classic cartoon, a long overdue option, and remained dynamically in character throughout. His stuttered rhyming, often exposing stumbling out of the pocket, works on “Save the Day” over that flutter drummed action theme. That fluting that previews what shit Lion-O is about to get into is awkward and quirky to work for Mic on “Garden of Delights.”
Now, half a decade later and Mic Mountain, is a battle bar brother. And The Avalanche is the new LP I gotta worry about. Will I cringe or bang out with it? It’s been in the middle as much of it works and some of it is middling. Mic Mountain will forever be an MC in a love affair with Hip Hop and all its Boom Bap nirvana drum and bar virgins promised from the classic 90s. Listening to Mic, there is still too much space in the bars, the bpm often too slow, so when he is out of pocket it’s noticed. “Breaker 1-9” is the type of drum pattern he can work and with the great Tame One on it, wasn’t expected to dominate. The shit works. Cinema sounds and epic breaks comfort Mountain and “B-Film” lets him phrase his way through. He used to fail miserably at such a slow track as “High Altitudes” but his clarity is near perfect so the problem is now where it needs to be often. The lack of tempo diversity still hurts when “Ganja Smoke,” “Architect Music,” and “Hogan’s Thang” run so slow, it’s at a level right about spoken word.
I’m Allah with the Rule here. I can’t listen to my fellow countrymen without being a damned A&R. Content? Only with more content. Mic Mountain is improving on The Avalanche but like so many MCs whose social media is filled with interesting ideas and opinions that can become songs, their actual songs lack a detailed insight. Nearly all of Avalanche can be ranked as a song about this or one about that but the ideas are far too generic. But these are what I have to expect. The Boom Bap format has eliminated much of the daring to talk deeper on issues outside of the battle bar and women/weed/Boriken loves. When there are songs like “Metaphors & Verbs” then why aren’t there any figures of speech applied to expose a thought or any verbs on all of these actions.
After five years I have less expectations for Mic Mountain but a solid practice on verbal dexterity, making sure he absolutely doesn’t go out of the pocket as he too often does squeezing in extra vowels on bars, can make his works better exercises in the talents he has worked so hard to emulate. As a producer his breakbeat game is of a decent quality where drums are familiar but well placed (a lost art) and his score and backdrop sampling is strong. There’s no losses when you’re independent and expressing yourself. My Boricua brother Mic Mountain has all the time and space to shoot greater shots in the universe. The Avalanche is a respectable jumper in the lane.
The organization of these principles around a counterculture, an expressive arts of creation that uplifts the ideas and thoughts of an oppressed people, is why I’m an honored builder amongst legends, knighted by heroes of Medina (Rakim Supreme Shabazz Allah/Rudy Lo, Thirstin Howl the 3rd, Bonz Malone) to further create in my element as a Hip Hop Writer (creative author/principled journalist/honoring historian) of #ArtOnArt & #ScienceOnMusic. So the world may find love that locks in with the action of loyalty though they may never find another writer with my kind of grammar…
Living and sharing the pillars of:
Peace, Sunez Allah