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No Face – Empty

Published on May 31, 2012

Release: 2012
Reviewed by: Neil Christian
Rating: 4.5
[xrr rating=4.5/10]

To claim that the internet has revolutionized music would be an immense understatement. The internet has not only broken the shackles of labels and increased the globalization of hip-hop, it has also opened up the world to artists that we wouldn’t normally hear. However, the biggest downside of this has been the massive influx of artists making all kinds of music and no litmus test for good music or bad music. Whether this is a good or a bad thing, I’ll let the experts decide. One thing is for sure, music is not appreciated the same way it was appreciated just over a decade ago.

What do I mean? I mean this: anyone with a keyboard and a mic can release a song. Many people will like it, cop it, listen to it for a week; and then the song will never surface again. Songs and albums now have a life-expectancy of hours, not years. This has resulted in artists that are making music to get that quick buck instead of truly good MUSIC at all. However, there is a new breed of artists stepping onto the hip-hop scene, secular or otherwise, who are going back to the drawing board and attempting to re-create music, as it was.

This leads to the production on Empty. No Face is a new, young duo making different and interesting music. The production is quite varied on this project. It gives a good glimpse into the abilities of the producers. There are records such as “Unworthy” with their keys and subdued percussion that provide a great platform to talk about God’s grace and how unworthy we are to receive it. On the opposite end of the spectrum sits “Chill Bro”, with its deep synths and southern snares that is definitely a live ‘hype’ track. Then there is the interesting “Empty Words” that takes a pop song and adds a sample-ish effect on it.

The result sounds like the rapper rapping to a song on the radio; it is interesting to say the least.  Speaking of the rappers, they are decent. There is a good use of metaphors and they sound hungry (which is a good sign in this game we call hip-hop), but a lot more study and effort is needed to bring their rap game up to scratch. The rhymes are mostly nursery type rhymes but the flow of the rappers on the tracks makes up for the simple nature of the rhymes.

If all that variety wasn’t enough, “Want you Want” contains a very 40-ish beat with its ambiance and minimalist approach, also adding in an auto-tuned small hook to round it out. While there was variety on the tracks, which was great to see from these new kids on the block, it was quite hard to get through the album. It listened to the first four and then turned it off, tried and failed again until eventually I was able to get through the project. This is a perfect case of bad sequencing of tracks. The first six tracks might be hype tracks but they grow tiresome very quickly due to the constant flow of 808’s and synths. The project could have moved tracks with austere sounds such as “Heart Change” further up to break the southern banger monotonous sound dominating the first half of the project.

Apart from the sequencing though, the biggest drawback on this project is the post-recording production. The vocals distort in places and are overwhelmingly loud at time and feel displaced from the track. Some tracks (such as “Unworthy”) had distorted bass, probably an issue with gain control, and most of the records’ elements and melodies meshed together into one sound creating just noise.

There is a lot of potential on this project. I would recommend the rappers to study the English language to increase their vocabulary to go with that nice flow. The production was also nice however the poor mixing/mastering process brought the project to its knees. However, No Face is to be watched out for in the future. They are capable of making that good, classic music.

Comprehensive Ratings:
Rating – 4.5

1. Music – 7
2. Flow – 4
3. Creativity / Originality – 4
4. Relevancy – 3
5. Content & Character – 5
6. Credibility & Confidence – 5
7. Personality – 5
8. Presentation Quality – 5
9. Overall Production Quality – 4
10. Potential Impact – 3

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