A couple of months back I had noticed a message sitting in my inbox on Tumblr. Clicking the notification was like opening a window. A nice breeze could settle in or maybe a torturous wave of humidity. Who really knows? But thankfully I was greeted with the breeze of an Eric King. He kindly asked if I could review one of his songs as if my opinion was really all that noteworthy and I’ll admit that earned cool points with me if I’m being completely honest. I was a week late in responding to his message and even more behind on this review now (total understatement) but I could only hope he understands seeing as he graciously didn’t mind my absence back in January. Anyway, I agreed to take a listen and he then provided me with a link to his full four track self titled EP. I told him then that I’m known for my bluntness and this review will of course reflect that. So let’s dive in!
The link brought me to a track called “Trillionaire” which I did end up listening to first. However, I’m gonna keep the track list in order for this review just cause. The project begins with “The Greatest” immediately hitting you head on with some horn-like synth staccato. Soon after, the hook comes in with a triumphant feel to it. “From the bottom of my heart, I will complete this mission.” The following Noah’s Arc line gets me every time and I won’t front like it doesn’t but the key point of this entire track is success. Fight your way to the top and never let up. Some wavering vocals take us into an outro composed of a lone piano melody that seemingly came from hesitant hands. At this point it feels like you’re a long way from the beginning. To me it’s like finally reaching what you set out to attain. I thought it was a dope addition. After hearing this song I knew I was in for a noisy trip, which didn’t put me off seeing as I used to listen to Sleigh Bells a fair amount. But I could see how some would turn away. Lyrically it bares similarities to Kid Cudi, one of my biggest inspirations ever.
The second track titled “Boston City Dreams” is even noisier and honestly confuses me still. By the end you’ll wonder if you’ve listened to four different songs in one sitting or if you’re seriously on some heavy psychedelics. The rise of the synth pads and waning vocals are hard on my ears (and sensitivity to sounds). The collision of all the different sounds are a bit too wishy-washy for me as well. Maybe that was the intention? I dunno but personally there’s no connection for me there. The vocals don’t give me a sense of strength or understanding, especially during the tail end. The first part is my favorite though. I think I would be more content with having that first minute as the structure for the full song.
“Trillionaire” comes hammering in with a stabbing synth rhythm that’s reminiscent of Hudson Mohawke and Lunice in my opinion. This is my favorite track on the project by far. The power in the vocals are evident though I’m not a fan of the short autotune segment but that’s just my personal taste. I prefer subtle autotune effects unless it’s for an artistic or stylistic addition (i.e. vocoder) to the song rather than an insert for popularity. Eric is certainly not going for popularity though. In fact he goes against the grain with a grittiness and honesty. The passion breathes fire into the core of the song and the lyrics are very easy to relate to. There’s an ongoing theme of just trying to make it against all odds. On a side note for me I have to admit that the use of “nigga” put me off. I don’t know if Eric is Afro Latino unbeknownst to me but personally I don’t get down with non black people including non black people of color using it. I’m aware that there are others within the community who are okay with it or even encourage their non black friends to use it but again, MY preference as a BLACK person is a definitive “nope”. At the end of the day “Trillionaire” has the fight in it to make me believe in Eric King.
We finally reach the kick tapping of “Lift Me Out Of The Dark And Into The Light” and let me tell you this one is heavy on the reverb. In the intro, Eric lets you know that he’s here before he jumps head first into a seizure inducing hook composed of a set of vocals that are both pitched down and pitched up. There’s a lot of noisy instruments in the background that nearly give me a migraine each time I hear them and as a producer it’s hard to ignore the rumble effect of so many clashing sounds. But when I tell you that the verse instantly has my head bobbing I really mean it. He’s definitely hungry on this one. I’m a fan of King’s flow on all of the tracks and a good flow is very important to me so I’m pleased with the aggressiveness showcased here. I think that lyrically this song is my favorite on the EP which is unfortunate since the hooks cause me a lot of grief. And the power in the words is a nice end note for the project. There’s a string of the aforementioned word during the second verse but I’ve already discussed that. The singing before the third verse is rough on me and I find myself feeling similarly to how I did back in Boston City. All in all I like the melody I’m able to find within the racket so I’m obliged to suggest turning down the reverb and practice mixing. I won’t say “proper” mixing because everyone wants different sounds to stand out within their work. I sure as hell do and don’t take kindly to someone warping my vision but there’s always a rule of thumb to enhance your work in anything.
Eric is definitely trying to do something different and I respect that. More accurately I feel like he’s being himself and that authenticity gives me a sense of understanding him. I can get down with his “Stadium Rap” movement if it means that a slight polishing of sound will occur. Not enough to completely trivialize what he stands for but just enough to maintain focus. Just bring the noise down a bit and embrace the mastering process. Maybe utilize subtle delays instead of drowning in reverb. I want the grit but maybe clean up the excess. I think that also honing in on the singing vocals will go a long way. Nowadays many rappers take on singing duties instead of seeking out hook masters which is fine but, that also includes taking it upon oneself to work on the quality of those vocals. If anything this project has made me wonder what the next step will be. I’m already envisioning punk pep rallies or underground hip hop mosh pits as worthy backdrops for his music. It surely won’t hurt alternative hip hop to procure a hype king killing it as rap submerges itself into the slump inducing, languid quicksand of 808s and opioids. It’s always nice to have a balance or at least a few rebels mixing things up. With that being said I see a potential rebel in the making which brings an important question to my mind. What is the destiny of Eric King?
By Dij Ri’chard
Check out Eric King’s music here: https://soundcloud.com/erickinggod
Hit him up on his Tumblr: http://erickinggod.tumblr.com/
Hit me up if you want me to review you: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/abrighteyedbandit