Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this Independent Spotlight review, I’ll be taking a lengthy look at RichiedAHippie and his new record, ‘Skinny Jeans and Nirvana Tees.’ Now, it’s a hip hop / rap record, and it’s incredibly different than what I normally tackle on Independent Spotlight. Why? Well, it’s an album that stands out as a result of the vague introduction I’ve had to it.
When approached to review this record, I wasn’t given much information. I got the artist and album names, a download to tracks that aren’t yet fully completed without a specific running order, and a Soundcloud link that didn’t offer much info. Normally, I start out my reviews by outlining the artist’s history and past in order to best give context to the record, but I can’t necessarily do that here. So, I’m just going to jump in blind to ‘Skinny Jeans and Nirvana Tees.’
Right off of the bat, the title refers to a very specific subculture. Nirvana fans in the early 1990’s didn’t don their favorite band’s t-shirts or skinny jeans, that fashion/subculture phenomenon rose to prominence a decade later. It’s a confused culture, because it resembles something that Nirvana never truly was - Nirvana fans were never attempting to make a statement about fashion, they wore flannels and baggy jeans. So going into the record, let’s attempt to figure out why RichiedAHippie named it the way he did...
Immediately, the production quality of the record is surprisingly good. Independent artists are always plagued by poor production, especially rap artists. RichiedAHippie’s production is very sound, though, and it accents his vocals very well. I absolutely love how he has chosen to introduce himself on this record, because he utilizes a unique repeating sample and droning electric guitar riffs in the distance. (That’s ‘Metaphor 4 Misery.’)
His rapping is exceptional as well. You can understand him as he slinks through verse after verse and the rhyming is surprisingly good. In ‘Metaphor 4 Misery,’ he’s telling you his story about how nobody understands him and his world is falling down around him as he slips deeper into the sand. He’s stressed, depressed, and he’s stranded at sea. What’s even worse is that he can’t float. It’s a saddening song, but powerful and relatable. The sampling backup vocals and electric guitar make it incredibly unique musically.
‘Time Ft. B-Eazy’ is features a very atmospheric beat and introspective lyrics regarding time. RichiedAHippie comes to the realization that time is fleeting and he’s moving through life much quicker than he may have wanted to. It echoes a similar sentiment to ‘Metaphor 4 Misery’ - He needs help; he really isn’t in the best place. The chorus is amazing on this track, and it ends in a much more positive fashion as he becomes resolute to climbing back up the ladder he fell down.
‘The Probation Blues’ is a bit stereotypical, departing from the introspective nature of the previous songs. It’s one of those rap tracks that centralizes around drugs - He’s got a piss test in the morning for his probation officer and he’s sure as hell not going to pass it. ‘The World Is Mines’ puts the foot to the pedal; he’s going to spread his wings and fly, become strong, and take the world that he knows is his.
‘Hendrix Diaries’ may be one of the most intriguing tracks on the album, beginning with a sound clip from an interview with Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix is wonderfully humble and honest in the interview, shying away from the spotlight a reporter is trying to shine on him. The lyrics are rock and roll personified through rap. ‘Thank God That I’m Alive’ reflects on RichiedAHippie’s mortality, he wants to celebrate that he’s alive. It’s an uplifting song about how he’s going stay strong even some people try to push him down.
‘Hoes and Nintendo’ is endearingly comical, actually utilizing some Nintendo sound effects at the beginning of the track. This track continues the album as an indication of the originality of the subject matter; each song is delves into a different aspect of life. ‘The Blood Pharaoh’ is a bit weaker of a track. It’s a tad predictable, though the production is one of the better mixes on ‘Skinny Jeans and Nirvana Tees.’
‘The Heist’ could do with a name change to separate itself from Macklemore’s critically acclaimed 2012 record, but in any case, it’s a nice track. ‘Love is a battlefield, I’m ready for the war, walking on the ceiling, looking at the floor.’ ‘Ace of Spades’ has a really unique production, utilizing much more instrumentation which sits very well with the rhymes.
‘The Art of Happiness’ relies heavily on a sampled backbeat, ‘St. Elmo’s Fire,’ the Michael Franks version. It’s reminiscent of ‘Bound 2’ from Kanye West’s last album, ‘Yeezus.’ The musical soundscape behind this fast-rapped jam is blissful, though the sung choruses are very flat. ‘The Tribal Chant’ is the last track I took a look at, it’s instrumentation is equally unique as the previous tracks.
In honesty, I can’t answer the question I set out to answer at the beginning of this musical journey. I have no idea why RichiedAHippie named the album what he did. With that said, I did discover a surprisingly good independent rap record that deserves some recognition. As I mentioned, it’s still being finished up, but I imagine the final mixes will polish this album into something certainly worth the time of an indie rap or hip hop fan.
Check him out on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/richiejones216