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.
Brandon Joseph Vlasic is a twenty year old hip hop artist that goes under the persona of ‘Prophet.’ As Prophet, he declares that he a true ‘Baller,’ in that he has a mission to excel in his craft and represent himself as a leader and a professional. He expresses that the term ‘Baller’ doesn’t, or at least shouldn’t, represent money, girls or cars. Rather, it should represent respect and loyalty. Good on you, Prophet. You have it right where the majority of your fellow rap artists have it very, very wrong. So, Prophet has a solid moral backdrop to his music, which is refreshing, given the over-flooding of atrocious public figures that plague his genre. That’s a good place to start!
I’ll be honest - I’m not a rap fan. Yes, I’ve spent years now in my efforts to become a professional musical writer through different publications and my own endeavors, but no, I’ve never clicked with rap and hip hop. I’m a white suburban kid who never heard the ‘N’ word in conversation until he visited New Orleans, and the only rap album on my iPod is ‘Yeezus.’ Maybe that’s a good thing, though, because since I am removed from Prophet’s targeted demographic, I can give an honest review of the styling and production.
When I visited Prophet’s page to listen to ‘The Midwest Hustle,’ I was preparing for the worst. The self-recorded rap genre is vast, and mostly, really, really bad. So, I was very shocked when I hit the first song on the album and received a track that was exceptionally produced and recorded. In fact, all of the songs are. The songs’ beats are top notch, and the production value is quite high. Prophet’s ability to rhyme-rap his way through each eclectic verse of lyrics is impressive, and one forgets that this is an independent release. It sounds just as solid as any other rap album I’ve heard come out of the industry at a much higher level.
The songs cover all of the bases of the genre: loyalty, respect, troubled youth, riding with your boys, a frightening overuse of the ‘N’ word, smoking, and pursuing dreams. And you know what? It’s good. It’s really good; surprisingly good.
The whole album I was a bit on the edge of my chair, because this isn’t the kind of music I listen to. I’m a Bob Dylan fan. I had listened to a Cat Stevens record before this EP. That’s a big jump. At the end of the record, though, I had eased back into my chair and was enjoying the songs. ‘Down A Notch’ is the exit of the record, and the most superb track on the record. The instrumentation is so catchy, and very enjoyable. It’s a track that screams of ‘YOLO’ without being overly cliche.
'The Midwest Hustle' is a good stepping stone for Prophet, and it's certainly worth a listen. Check it out below: