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Abstract Mindstate - Dreams Still Inspire Music Album Reviews

Abstract Mindstate - Dreams Still Inspire Music Album Reviews
Guided by detailed coaching from Kanye West, the Chicago duo embrace an urge to restore a kind of lyrical conscious rap that has never been lost.

In 2018, as Kanye West helmed G.O.O.D. Music’s infamous Wyoming sessions, he also made time for undersung Chicago rappers E.P. da Hellcat and Olskool Ice-Gre. As Abstract Mindstate, the pair had worked with West on their first and second albums in the early 2000s, but a one-two punch of bad and worse luck derailed the duo’s career. In Wyoming, their fortune improved after one of their old mixtapes helped West overcome writer’s block. In return, he offered to reunite and produce them. Dreams Still Inspire captures the joy and bonhomie of this impromptu reunion, celebrating the pair’s legacy and their wayward path back to rap.

Abstract Mindstate recorded their album between their day jobs as a behavioral therapist (Hellcat) and an A&R for G.O.O.D. Music (Olskool). Sparks didn’t immediately fly—they hadn’t recorded together in years, and Hellcat’s creativity suffered in the interim. “Greg never stopped writing. It was like pulling teeth for me,” she told Rolling Stone. Some days I was in tears—[thinking about] all these dope rhymes I used to write, and now I can’t write a verse.” Guided by detailed coaching from West, the two embraced that urge to restore what had been lost.

The resulting record is decidedly nostalgic. Abstract Mindstate has always been a throwback group, from the “I Used to Love H.E.R.” theme of their early song “Rhythm” to the on-the-nose “Nostalgia,” which features, of course, Common. Here, that retro aesthetic persists and gestures toward a bygone golden era of clever wordplay and moral authority. “We speak clarity, never mumbled it,” Hellcat says on “Salutations (Intro),” drawing a line in the generational sand. In interviews, they’ve described their music as “adult contemporary hip-hop,” a shtick that’s too flimsy to take seriously. Between Quelle Chris, Jean Grae, Run the Jewels, and Armand Hammer, as well as other Chicagoans like Noname, Saba, and Open Mike Eagle, the kind of lyrical conscious rap Abstract Mindstate claims to be resuscitating with their return never even went into shock.

That white lie of revitalizing the art gives the pair confidence, though. Their performances, while a little rickety at times, brim with energy and catharsis. “I’m back with my first love/It feel like my first time/I’m back in the studio/This ain’t my first rhyme,” Olskool says on “I Feel Good,” his voice resonant. Hellcat echoes that sentiment on “Expository Mode,” rapping, “It’s a marvelous feeling being back in the booth/’Cause being back in the booth/Is like reliving my youth.” Her verse trails off at the end of the line as if she’s stunned by her own longevity. On opener “Salutations (Intro),” she calls West Mr. Glass, using “Through the Wire” as a timestamp.

West’s beats are tailored to this reminiscent mood. The samples are conspicuously homesick, incorporating bits from Abstract Mindstate songs, multiple snippets from G.O.O.D. Music 1.0’s hip-hop soul aesthetic, and interpolations of Brand Nubian (“I Know You”) and 2Pac (“The Brenda Song”). The drum programming is unfussy and neat, the low end vacant. And there are few maximalist suites or beat changes, mainstays of West’s production over the past decade. Throughout the album’s 31 minutes, there’s never any doubt that Old Kanye is at the console.

In 1994, when Abstract Mindstate was coming together, another Chicagoan, William Upski Wimsatt, coined “Chicago Syndrome” to describe the city’s overlooked status in the music industry. As record contracts went to New Yorkers and Angelenos, and Windy City rappers lamented the lack of opportunity, Wimsatt argued that the people “who get the most out of hip-hop are those who do it just for its own sake. The ones who work their butts off just because it makes them feel alive.” The quote is priggish, but it captures the sense of sustenance and rapture that animates Dreams Still Inspire. Most of us will never have our dead passion resurrected by the whims of a megastar, but for Abstract Mindstate, it happened, and they had the time of their lives.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Abstract Mindstate - Dreams Still Inspire Music Album Reviews Abstract Mindstate - Dreams Still Inspire Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Wednesday, August 25, 2021 Rating: 5

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