Cloud City – Selections from Cloud City

4 out of 5

Label: bandcamp digital release

Producer: Beats Daily & AdamBomb

I’m no longer sure how I came around to downloading this album, but whatever the link was… lordy.  This stuff is available, legitimately, for free, and it kicks the production pants and slingin’ skills, uh, pants, off of the majority of everything else you’re likely to hear.  Now, Cloud City is a collective, so, typical of that, an album from the group has a very loose feel to it.  Styles and flow vary from track to track depending on who’s assigned, and thus that title – ‘Selections from…’ – is pretty accurate.  It doesn’t come across as a fully realized release (part of the docking of the star) so much as a sampler plate of the whole Cloud City crew.  Now what’s atypical of this is that every god damn person brings their A game.  Some of these dudes are quick tongued, some have a slower, rolling style, some fall back on call outs, some just sling the rhymes together… but it’s all committed, and it’s all GOOD.  Generally you’ll write off a couple peops as the lesser-thans, and they’re friends of somebody somebody who didn’t quite evolve to the same skill level, whoops, but they’re still part of the crew.  Not so on ‘Selections,’ and that relates to both sides – rhyming and beats.  As part of the sample feel, some tracks do just come and go after the rhyme has been laid down, but all the cuts have amazing mixes behind them, often mash-ups of styles – ‘Carnivale,’ ‘Le Tambourine ft. Tribe of Levi’ – that are never flashy with their genre mixing; Beats Daily & AdamBomb, if solely responsible, are smart with the way they blend things in and out and keep the beat and artists primary.  Any cool samples aren’t what make the song, they’re just flavoring, as they very well fucking should be.  And speaking to how well this team worked together, despite the rotating arrangements, rhythms and rappers feel synced up perfectly.  These dudes aren’t just rapping on top of a track – or if they are, it doesn’t feel like it.  Instead, it’s a cohesive feeling, written in a more traditional song structure, where the pieces come together slowly to form a whole.

The lyrics are primarily ‘let me tell you about myself and my crew and how good we are’ and I sort of suspect that some of the rhymes are just rhymes (as in they don’t really make sense), however, none of the rhymes are A. easy, B. predictable, C. repetitive, or D. swearing.  So while we can criticize the Cloud City crew for pulling some questionable metaphors out of their lyrical bag, that criticism is toppled by the immense creativity and skill shown with each new rhyme that pops up.

Now I just need to find out where all of these people went musically and pretend like I’ve been a fan forever.

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