Once in a while you still stumble over that one artist who does things a little differently. In this case, the rapper from Austin strongly trusts in the power of the classic album format – in victorious fashion.
If you somehow missed out on his recently released debut album, make sure you get that right very soon. In many ways, ‘Lend Me Your Ear’ separates strongly from the current sound and nature of the industry.
The first time I heard about Arod was when he dropped his single ‘Adolescence’ earlier this year. As so often, the song got lost in one of my playlists, and I forgot to do my research on the artist later.
Then a week ago, I stumbled over the album’s review on LaTabloid. Reading that the album did the phenomenal single track justice, I decided to take an hour off my day’s schedule and listen to the full LP, something I hadn’t done in quite a while. A spontaneous decision that paid off!
Excuse the old school analysis of the songs, but you will need to know that Arod’s songs are more than just bars, the beat making and picking is exceptional.
‘Intro’ starts with a high pitched sample of The Jones Girls’ ‘Who can I run to?’, before Arod joins in with the trap-style patterned drums. His first words dedicate the record to his single grandma who raised him.
Lyrically, Arod is somewhere between street and aspiring entrepreneur, somebody who is determined to beat the odds in many ways. The young man from Austin, who graduated from high school and made it to college despite all challenges and hardships, dropped his studies only to fully dedicate his time and efforts to music. And the result, well we can hear it.
The Intro is followed by ‘Adolescence’, the track that introduced me to the Austin born and raised artist. I don’t know why, but the track is even more impressive in the context of an album. The dedication to recent victims of police brutality adds to the urgency of the record, thought the issue is obviously not just a recent one.
The third song on the album introduces his first feature artist – nobody less than Tsu Surf. That’s another pleasant surprise and it seems he is picking his feature artists just as confidently as his soulful beats. A classic laid back track with both artists shining equally next to each other.
Track number four was another single release from the record. ‘Scenic Route’ is built around samples of The Dynamic Five’s ‘Beautiful Lady’. The album lives of the harmony between the artist and producer. ‘Grandma’s Blessing’ is another insight into Arod’s eventful life and another mention of the special woman that raised the artist. Then, ‘Pac Flow’ follows. And that’s all there is to add. Pac flow you receive.
The following ‘Summer Madness’ is another smooth laid back, real talk filled arrangement that features the beautiful voice of Austin singer Ly.Ebss.
Arod doesn’t hide his affiliations, despite his positive outlook and pursuit for greater things. On ‘Mobb Ties’ a darker beat gives him the space to go into those parts of his story a little deeper and shows a side of the artist that I hadn’t seen before. The tracks ‘Karma’ and ‘Survival’ bring back the vocal samples, piano and uplifting hustle spirit.
You’ve gotta love it, when it’s this well made.
Before the album closes, ‘D.O.A.’ has Arod talking about all kinds of demons that follow him on his road to glory, but none of them would survive a lyrical shootout with this crafty writer. Probably the most ‘battle-ready’ track on the record, Arod effortlessly makes a strong statement here.
‘Problem Child’ ensures the album ends on the same note it started on, with the success headed rapper telling us more stories about his childhood and the times that shaped him into who he is today – one of my very favourite artists of the year.