Chang$: “Off The Top” – a healthy dose of vocal wizardry

Influenced and inspired by an eclectic music taste that includes artists like Michael Jackson, Cassidy, Chris Brown, King Los, and P Diddy, the emerging urban artist, Chang$, blends EDM,...

Influenced and inspired by an eclectic music taste that includes artists like Michael Jackson, Cassidy, Chris Brown, King Los, and P Diddy, the emerging urban artist, Chang$, blends EDM, Pop, and R&B into his evolving modern style of hip-hop. The artist from the Decatur music scene in Georgia, dropped his “Off The Top” EP a while back, and is currently propelling its momentum into the mass media. The EP finds Chang$ in what seems to be a comfortable, confident place for him musically. He is an astute lyricist and consistently performs intelligently on his flow patterns. There is no shortage of killer lines on this record as lyricism is not a problem for Chang$. And neither is this album’s production, for that matter, which bangs from the first track to the last.

From the shimmering pianos to the swirling synths and the booming 808’s throughout the recording, there is no shortage of production strength on “Off The Top”. Chang$ is witty, emotional and triumphant, as he affronts matters of love, life, and overcoming obstacles.

Filled with change, movement, and transformation, Chang$ weaves his way through these tracks showing off his rhyming skills, his ear for melody, and his knack for unforgettable ear-worms. Of course, the soundtrack to Chang$’ life doesn’t embrace a philosophy of standing still; it’s about emotional progression, looking ahead, and moving forward.

So when Chang$ kicks off the collection with the mid-tempo bass driven boom of “Countdown”, you know the only way from there is up. It’s moments like the melodic twist of “I Swear” that I wish the hip-hop haters would balance their critiques with praise for artists who develop intriguing, introspective themes like Chang$ does with this EP.

On this point, “What’s Up Wit’ It”, has a personal and compelling look into a relationship. Chang$ speaks his mind, and you can tap your foot to it, too, so it’s a win-win situation. What more do you want?

The the beauty of having something to say and being undeterred in your mission to get that something heard, comes to the fore again on the single “10-4”, where Chang$ ups the lyrical ante while intensifying his flow. This may just be the best track on the EP.

However if you’re an addict for melody, you’ll simply dig “Lada”. Wrapped in smooth R&B-styled clothing this poignant track has the most hypnotizing hook-line taken from one word that I’ve heard in quite a while. Solid, subdued rhymes over amazing production, and a healthy dose of vocal wizardry. This has to be the catchiest cut in the collection.

Still young and restless, Chang$ rolls out the up-tempo bounce of “Hopped Out”. It’s an expansion of a tried and true template used in the past to get heads nodding and feet tapping. Chang$ gives it more flavor and levity.

As we close in on the final track, “Smash”, it’s clear that this EP never loses steam. Comfortable with what he is doing, and using deft wordplay to convey his thoughts, Chang$ quietly rips this track apart using varied rhyme schemes and an uncanny attention to detail.

Though catchy off the cuff, the EP “Off The Top”, also works as a slow burn, and one that gets better with each spin. I assure you, if you give this one a chance, it will have a hard time finding its way out of your playlist.

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