Friday, November 14, 2014

DaVinchee X - Paranoia of Success



DaVinchee X presents his latest album Paranoia of Success


It's not often that an album comes to my inbox and I can genuinely say that I love it, but Paranoia of Success is an exception to that rule. I love this album. It's just the right amount of silly and serious with a majority of the album written about smoking weed, drinking, and getting high in various ways. The beats and lyrics are very reminiscent of the songs from a little group I grew up listening to known as Three Six Mafia, except these beats are updated for the year 2014. Plus Paranoia of Success has a much higher production value than what I was bumping back in 1998.

I don't know that many hip-hop artists who take themselves seriously would want to be compared to Three Six Mafia, but the similarities here are too numerous to gloss over. The lyrics focus strongly on getting high and the beats consist of 808s and demonic sounding choruses and violins with bells ringing in background that could be tolling the coming of the apocalypse. Growing up in Memphis, TN, I have listened to every single piece of music that Three Six and their various side projects have put out. I thoroughly enjoy hip-hop that can create that sense of ridiculousness while still sounding dope enough to ride around bumping. DaVinchee X achieves this balance quite well.

The first track on the album "Summertime 89" does not sound like Three Six Mafia. In fact, the beat is truly original and the opening verses make me feel like I'm listening to a updated version of Snoop Dogg's "Lodi Dodi." I love the glitchy organ sounds that lead the track. It feels like I'm listening to a rap song set inside of a video game. The song is very catchy with affected vocal sound creating the lead melody over the chorus. This one is definitely a hod-nodder, like most of the album, and a great choice for the opening track.

"Treetop" is a classic homage song to our favorite smokable green. The chorus is simple and repetitive but effective. "Weed got me sitting at a Treetop height, a Treetop height," etc. etc. Da Vinchee X names off nearly every strain of marijuana in the verses. The beat is fairly minimal with 808 beats again and little plinky sounds like Super Mario picking up coins that carry the only melodic part of the music. It's a simple song, but for any fan of hip-hop and weed, this track will check all the boxes on your list.

The third track on the album, "Freemind," is a pretty psychedelic trip through a myriad of drug induced musings. This track sounds more like modern hip hop with stuttered arpeggios running through the breakdowns. The beat stays in the down-tempo realm and feels really chill. It's a good listen but not the strongest track on the album.

"Stars" opens with an intro that could be repurposed for the opening of "America's Most Wanted." Spooky synths laced over a sparse and heavy beat create a smoked out, locced out atmosphere for another track that centers mostly around getting high. "Atlas" takes us back to the demonic realm with a dark beat that easily could be on a Three Six album.  With a ego-centric chorus touting DaVinchee X as the hardest, this is another formulaic gangster rap sounding track.

"Faces of Pleasure" breaks the mold on this album, offering up a beat that sounds like it could have been produced by Washed Out. A spacey, dreamstep beat backs the verses sounding off about love and sex and, naturally, getting high. I love the sound of this beat, but I fucking hate the sounds of sex laid over the intro and intermittently brought back throughout the track. I understand why the sounds are on the track. It makes sense with the narrative of the song, but I rarely, if ever, have the desire to hear people fucking. To take those sounds and make them a feature of this track just kills it for me. I can't listen to that shit, but that's just me.

We get a more soulful sound led by piano and guitar with nice rock and roll backbeat on "The Want of Will." Violin samples lace the breakdowns in between verses for a nice melodic addition to the overall sound. This track is a bit of a mess with lots of affected vocals and numerous reversed pieces of music popping in and out throughout the track. I listened to numerous times, but mainly just felt like glossing over it in the end. It's not bad, but just not as strong as the rest of the album in my opinion.

"9Figure Android" helps put the album back on track with a more focused, down-tempo sound. The narrative of the lyrics feel a lot bigger than most of the album musing about our place in the world with verses like "I'm gone change the world, or the world's gone change me." The next track, "Addicted 2 Stona," is a perfectly spacey trip through a hypothetical search for some drugs. The only percussion is just a bass drum and a clave. It's wonderfully minimal with a very sparse beat layered over with huge pad synths.

The album is nearly at it's end with "BNT." This track is a nice change to the pacing of the album with a strangely syncopated beat. The melodic elements feature a harp back by opera singers, creepy violins, and a flute. It's a peculiar blend of instrumentation, but it works. If I understand correctly, BNT stands for Bitches n' Tools. And it's my best guess that the lyrics on this track are waxing about the nature of basic bitches and tools, being dudes or people in general who have garbage personalities.

"Eternal Happiness" raps up the album clocking in at over 6 minutes. We return to the 808 drum machine on this track with strangely processed samples composing the majority of music. Yes, there are lots of lyrics about smoking weed. The track actually takes a more upbeat direction after about 4 minutes, and it probably could have benefitting by hitting this change sooner or implementing the same idea earlier in the track. This track does a good job of capping off the album and keeping things consistent, even if it is a bit overwrought. 

Overall, I love this album. It's not perfect and it's not particularly deep, but it's great music to chill too and I will have to listen many more times before I've fully absorbed all the lyrics. DaVinchee X's Paranoia of Success will stay in rotation on my list for a while to come.





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