This “Mextape” overflows with incredible qualities. The sonics keep a listener satisfied. The talent is undeniable. The effort on this project is crystal clear. And the arrangement of the album is among the best this writer had heard on a mixtape: Each song cleverly merges into the next in spite of a short respite between tracks. This and other attributes make Volume 1 a creative venture. It’s quite impressive. In short, DJ Promote and Man of War’s Southwest Mextape Volume 1 is a cool party album that, though it falls short on content this writer gets excited about, serves as an enjoyable bundle of musical aptitude.
One of the first things the listener will notice is the sick giftedness of DJ Promote. The first tune, “Wrong Track,” is a well-done “Milkshake” remix with a little lyrical switcharoo. And from there, this CD spins with track flowing into track of splendid scratches, excellent production, and brilliantly-spit rhymes by Man of War. There are a few tunes that stand out. “Move on” begins with a series of rapid-fire scratches performed by Promote that makes the listener stand back in admiration. Man of War hits you with a gorgeous dedication to his wife and daughter in “Butterfly,” where he promises to teach his little girl “the Lord’s ways from a young age.” That song is a sweet addition. On another personal note is “Phone Messages,” a hot jawn featuring voice mail clips that help you peer into the man’s life, loves, and everyday reality. That track is yet another one replete with scratches and mixes that accompany pure God-given talent. As an admirer of instrumental flair, I was pleased to heed “Bang Bang” because of its subtle but fly use of cymbals that can almost be missed. The tap of the brass adds loads of flavor to the track. The rhyme style and excellent flow of Man of War is displayed most clearly in “Hands Up.” In this song, the rhymes are spit at 16th-note pace and seemingly two bass beats every bar. And another display of his talents can be found in “Trials,” where both the vocals and instrumentals capture the anguish of an unwanted pregnancy. “The only question is do I take my baby’s life or my own” is the painful question ultimately posed in this collide with reality.
There are other songs that stand out for different reasons, and this is why I couldn’t grant this project an overall 10. “A New Dawn” is one of several tunes on this project that seem to be declaring amazing attributes of God, which is content worthy of precise clarity, but much of what was said wasn’t fully heard. The exception here is a line that uttered, “without Him we’re lost.” “Live on Shade 45” is another such concern. I’m sure the vignette about the condition of Christian hip hop was mind-blowing, but it wasn’t completely audible or understandable. “Rock Rock” is nice with the timing, scratching, mixing, lyrical flow, and excellent sound. But it’s difficult to understand. That was like taking some of the sweetness out of your favorite ice cream when you’d been fantasizing over the treat all day.
If you’re the mixtape fan who is looking for sonic quality, bugged-out mixes, and equally-crazy flow from the rap artist, cop this. You’ll enjoy it from start to finish. If you’re looking for lyrical theology and a higher level of spiritual edification, Southwest Mextape Volume 1 may not do it for you. Nevertheless, this CD ends on a note any HHH fan can admire: a great scratch routine of a Trip Lee rhyme scheme with the closing credits. A great reminder of the sonic enjoyment this project brings to the table.
Label: Syntax Records
Release Date: 2006
01. Wrong Track
02. Rock Rock
03. Move On
05. Butterfly (re-mex feat. Sam Hart)
06. Phone Messages
07. Shot Outs
08. Bang Bang (feat. Sam Hart)
09. Hands Up
10. Cutting While Riding (DJ Promote)
11. Trials (feat. PortisHead)
12. King of Scratching (DJ Promote)
13. God Whisper
14. Live on Shade 45
15. A New Dawn
16. Where's My Mixtape
17. Brain Surgeons (feat. 24/7, Spoken Nerd, Capsule)
18. Big Ups