Album Review: Tampa emcee Gat$ gets political, takes a hard look within on By Any Dreams

Go to the listening party on Oct. 29.

click to enlarge Album Review: Tampa emcee Gat$ gets political, takes a hard look within on By Any Dreams
Yes, that's his prescription.

Gat$’s new album, By Any Dreams, is jazz-riddled, boom-bap-ingrained and emotionally connected to the thug side of life. Tampa-based emcee Robert Ferdinand provides the right balance of endearing highs and wretched lows for hip-hop lovers who miss the conscious congress of their personal and political self.

DO THIS: GATSBY LP LISTENING PARTY AT CLEAR TRACK STUDIOS 10.29.16

From the finessed instrumentation on “[act won.],”[act too.]” and “[act rite]” to the skit at the end of “[fool’s gold.],” the whole of By Any Dreams makes it difficult for listeners to elude Ferdinand’s social and political references. The record reflects society’s perceptions of black males in America as much as it lifts the veil of ignorance, giving both outsiders and those in the know a true account of the experience of a young black male in America.

Dreams’s third track “[better daze, pt. i & ii]” transitions from jazzy production with a skin-crawling bassline to a soothing ambient soundscape. After leaving space for the listener to personally reflect on the better days of life, the cut calmly, but majestically, disappears. The following song, “[fool’s gold.],” surfaces as trap-soul gospel and reveals a tale of a protagonist influenced by the luxuries of money and power. The song provides a relevant and tragic theme: not all that shines is actually dripping in gold.

The LP’s fifth track, “stolen future,” is a futuristic soul offering which recreates the type of eerie synth samples and tones found on Dr. Dre’s The Chronic and Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Ferdinand’s raspy, East Coast-style vocals open the track, and the instrumental quickly builds around his relentless, prophet-like lyrical approach. Gat$’s catchy choruses hook listeners with undertones of emotional confusion running throughout the album. Between paper and dream chasing, the future-altering detours on the album leave the protagonist feeling stagnant as a person.

Track nine, “[the connect. (tarantino wrap-up)],” is Gat$ storytelling at its best. Like Craig Mack’s “Flava In Ya Ear,” the bounce on the track trails in direct from ‘94. Moving from paper chasing to skirt chasing, Ferdinand lyrically dances from political to personal ambitions on the cut. Hoping his risky pursuits in courting vixens don’t leave him in a sticky situation, Gat$ inevitably woos a taken romantic interest, but the plot thickens as his rhymes and schemes catch up to each other. In short, he ends up getting closer to karma. While Gat$ strays clear of mumble rap, “[times two]” is where he flirts with the genre while also leveling it up. The 808-heavy track, along with Ferdinand’s versatile vocal style, fills voids listeners feel their favorite emcees in more mumbly genres are creating.

On Dreams, Gat$ has consciously encouraged listeners to question and react rather than be a complacent cog in an unjust society, and the album’s release should be a cause for celebration for those who long for inspiration so intense that it makes them have to acknowledge both the richness in tragedies and the true wealth in knowledge. (Critic’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars) 

Get more information about the LP listening party & release via local.cltampa.com. Read more about "No L's" here.

About The Author

Casey Jeanite

Casey Jeanite is a freelance writer and photographer. He's a self-described music enthusiast dedicated to spreading music throughout Tampa and is studying mass communications at the University of South Florida. You can read even more from Jeanite on the Savage City Blog...
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