Notably free of what most would consider a beat, LaQuinn instead pours himself out onto everything from chilled ambience to psych-out banging beats. Exuding confidence at every turn, his ability to wrangle any sound into his twisted world of hip hop is exhilarating. Fidgety and anxious, darting between glitches and hard noise, swagger and anthem attacks, the production on each track is pinned together by LaQuinn’s equally uncontainable vocal. As his unmistakable flow pulls everything along, “217″ proves itself to be LaQuinn’s masterstroke – a hip hop auteur like no other, it’s a record that does more than just pitch him leagues ahead of anyone else in the game; it’s a snapshot of a man who’s busy inventing a whole new game.
LaQuinn is a student of many great Charlottesville musicians. His late uncle Johnny Gilmore afforded him the possibilities to meet, witness, build and learn from other greats such as Uncle George Clinton, John Hornsby, Dave Matthews and a host of other talented artists. His story of being abducted when young to the perils of inner city life, a brief run in with the law and industry fodder serve as entertainment and as cautionary tales for enlightenment.
There is not a single song on “217″ that could be labeled as a filler track. LaQuinn’s lyricism and unparalleled flows are easy evidence of why he truly has no similar contemporaries, but equally impressive — and often even more so — is the production on the record.
Ranging from bell-heavy bangers to hurried bursts of instrumentation, the beats are mostly the work of a host of perpetually underrated producers – Ben Malick and a host of others, including Evo, Winston Garland, Tanaek Turner, Lyle Eugene, Edubb, Gill, Doughman Netwurk, Rick Carey and Bump Brown. Each of these brings something unique to the table which allows the Charlottesville rapper to explore his potential.
What this means for “217″ is that the songs on here are possibly LaQuinn’s purest, most crystalline yet. The album is dark in tone, compiled of tense, anxious beats surrounded by sinister synths and a lot of stoner and trippy overtones.
There are intense amounts of depth happening in the production at all times, with so many layers upon layers of sounds. The brilliance of the production, however, makes it easy to pick out every texture in the album. Accompanying these creative sounds are LaQuinn’s iconic vocals, relating stories from his hedonistic life experiences. Many of the narratives are shared with a variety of features that pop up on just about any track.
As a whole unit, the album is a real trip, and competes extremely well with more prestigious and anticipated albums this year, if not outperforming them. It manages to be a tense, deep listen and wholly enjoyable. If you are looking to try something new, yet fantastic, you could do no better than this album right now. Key tracks include “Matthews Holy Slaves (feat. Lyle Eugene)”, “Solomon the Pimp (feat. E Dubb)”, “The 12ths Love” and “Caine Versus Abel (Brother’s Keeper)”
Ike Turner [Explicit]
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