producers: arson optics, anonymous twist
guests: bavu blakes, anonymous twist, element of ballistix & doszastro, mirage.
website: arson
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1. Preface
2. Stepping Stones
3. War Crimes
4. Courage
5. Not Quite
6. Undercover feat. Bavu Blakes
7. Don't Doubt It
8. Life Forms
9. Full Throttle feat. Anonymous Twist
10. Here We Are feat. Element of Ballistix & Doszastro

11. Imitation Is Suicide

12. Lessons
13. Hold Us Down feat. Mirage
14. What You Say
15. Blank Faces
16. Stream Of Conscienceness


Based On A True Story

A while ago we received an album by someone calling himself Arson, and quite frankly, we weren't too impressed. The kid showed promise, but at the same time there was quite a bit not too right about the record too (for all those that missed the review, you can check it here). Well, a name addition later (some electric guitar bashing group also called Arson told him to change his name pronto), he returns with "Based On A True Story" and we are to check it out, seeing if the name is everything that changed.

But nope. The first track, it being "Preface", is already making us quite hyped about this. The beat, while built around a known loop, is still happening to be totally smooth, totally dope, and totally to our liking. Bavu Blakes is taking care of introducing Arson, letting us know that Arson is still only 16 years old, and that Bavu enjoys that kids now start earlier, and that it must have a positive effect on the music. We shall agree with the latter argument, as also "Stepping Stones" is working properly. There's some turkey like clucking sound, some piano sounds, fitted with a playful bass, providing the background for the always explaining rhymes by Arson. "War Crimes" tries to opt for something more dramatic, with orchestrated intensity, and telling rhymes, speaking about more than what first hits the ear. There's something missing about this though, maybe the voices are just too buried behind the beat, and the chorus is also missing the extra step up, to make it standing out as such. However, this quick step back is being taken care of on "Courage", where not only Arson is stepping up the pace of his rhymes, still spitting a mixture of explanation and braggadocios. Also, Arson is taking care of the cuts, that are well fitting and properly executed. So this again is to our liking.

Things get bouncy on "Not Quite", a track talking about Arson not having player genes enough to just walk up to dimes, to chat 'em up. Here he proves that his story telling ability is also not to be taken too lightly. In character this is very lighthearted, what makes it stick out in the times of where everything has to be thuggish or spacey. But that also means that describing it like that can't possibly be a complaint. Bavu Blakes then returns on "Undercover", where some horn section opens the track, and that is then fitted with a totally dope low key drum and bass. Bavu and Arson also sound incredible together, as these two folks are giving us another story, about what to do with wack artists. Well, simply stated, this cut is totally ill, and if you are taking notes, one of those that you have to hear yourself. Leaving the grim style behind we again get to some more bouncy territories with "Don't Doubt It", where Arson is opting for the straight up bragging and battling. Things then get smooth again on "Life Forms", where Arson is being thoughtful over somewhat too obvious keyboard sounds. Still opting for a more organ sound, they are bearable, and we shall not bicker.

We have been waiting quite some time to hear some more from Canadian artist Anonymous Twist, and we are getting something on "Full Throttle", where he's not only providing the beat, but also drops by to add a verse. Arson and Twist are opting for the braggadocios and this is straight up head bobbing inducing. Here you can hear what our complaint about Arson's way to mix his voice is all about, as Twist is straight up front, where the rhymes should be, while Arson still nestles in the back. The guests are being kept coming on "Here We Are", as Element and Doszastro are adding their rhyming to the track. This track though first catches our attention with its very nifty horn sample, and so we are once more treated to a cool beat, that we are gladly listening to. DJ Nicknack is handling the cutting on "Imitation Is Suicide", and he does it with skills. The chorus explains the topic of this track, it going "if imitation is suicide and greatness is not recognized / that's why you all died and I haven't been discovered". Again Arson is spitting his analytical rhymes, what can also be said about "Lessons", here his views on hip hop, and what he thinks of it, is being expressed. Here he takes care of the cutting, and making the chorus based on it, with the beat changing slightly, it works properly.

With "Hold Us Down" we are given another one of the best offerings on here. The beat is dramatic and well fitting the Mirage and Arson rhyming. On "What You Say" Arson changes his flow again, and he speaks about all them folks talking about his music, giving a portion of them his verbal right. And while we can't even knock him for anything he says, we also have to give a nod to the enormously jazzy beat, that is demanding a quicker spitting from Arson. And if "Blank Faces" sounds very live to you, then may be just because it actually is, with Arson taking care of all the percussion instruments, and Charles Krueger (brother or father?) is plucking the bass. Add a dope horn sample to this and you get another dope track. Now then lastly there's "Stream Of Conscienceness" [sic?]. While words are put over this, this is still more a instrumental offering, where Arson is again playing the keyboard.

What then leaves us with saying, that we are the happiest to report that Arson has made quite a leap forward giving us something that is thoroughly enjoyable, nice, dope, and to our complete liking. Heck, it even looks like Arson has found his own sound. Now, if we want to be like really nitpicking, what is still to work on, is the way the voices are mixed. They are somewhat lacking boldness, at times sounding thin. This is also making it harder for the chorus to get the intensity a chorus should have. But darn, if that is the only 'big' complaint, this tells you that this must be quite a record.

review: tadah

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