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 review, I’m going to be delving into ‘To Destroy Something Beautiful,’ the latest studio endeavor from Twizzie Ramos, a Filipino born rapper based in Calgary. Like many hip hop artists, he’s inspired heavily by an erratic array of genres - classical, jazz, punk, metal, etc. Thus, his new album reflects his sonic palette with elegant tact. ‘To Destroy Something Beautiful’ at its best is a profoundly good experience. At its worst, it does have a tendency to meander. Let’s dig right into it
Twizzie defines himself as a massive talent right out of the gate on ‘Party In My Name,’ a very well produced effort that also features MissFudge. It’s not terribly original - the whole “I’m a badass and everyone will have the most badass party to celebrate me after I die” schtick has been done countless times in rap. The highlights of the track are definitely MissFudge and the production. Goodness, the former dominates the final moments of the track and the latter resolutely marks one of the production high-points of the record. The beats are quite sharp, and fairly original. That’s a huge accolade amidst an independent music scene inundated by rap artists who can’t seem to come up with one original beat.
Twizzie defines himself further as a remarkably songwriter through the early moments of the record. ‘Unstoppable’ finds a way to make synthesized string sections sound fresh and original, which in itself, is a feat. I really dig the underlying soul influence on some of the tracks, something you can hear on ‘Unstoppable.’ ‘Still Sick’ has a terrific production, too, along with an equally powerful delivery.
‘Robin Padilla,’ a tune featuring Rubix, is the aforementioned meandering on the album. Twizzie spends too much time residing within recurring hip hop tropes throughout this entire track, making it painfully awkward at times. It falls flat, and in honesty, the whole “I’m the baddest, don’t fuck with me!” thing stopped being cool about a decade ago.
‘Forest’ is a much finer track in this sense, mostly because its lyricism directly deals with Twizzie exposing the ‘real me,’ which is refreshing after a self-indulging devolvement with ‘Robin Padilla.’ ‘Shh! Boi’ is a pretty good tune in this regard, too, shedding any narcissism for far more original lyricism. In fact, the center of ‘To Destroy Something Beautiful’ is some of the most superb work on the record. That’s definitely partially exemplified on ‘iHATErap’ - what a great production; it’s really a well done track.
‘You Mad Bruh?,’ a song featuring Bobby Blast’em, continues that exemplification of high quality, creative production. I love the dancing synthesizers that build behind Twizzie’s vocals in a moody, atmospheric fashion. ‘Unpleasantville,’ another featured track with the artist Nillie, has an excellent beat, perhaps even the best on the whole album. Twizzie’s jazz infused organs and backbeats are intriguing and complex. Nillie’s crooning creates a hauntingly beautiful soul aura on the song as well, really fleshing it out into one of the most elegant exhibitions on the album.
The culmination of everything that is good on ‘To Destroy Something Beautiful’ is ‘Kayumanggi.’ From sweeping brass sections to bombastic and well executed production, this track is the highlight of the whole album. If there is one thing you take from this record, make sure its ‘Kayumanggi.’ That said, it should have been the finale. The soft, introspective ‘’Succubus’ feels remarkably anticlimactic after the best track, and ‘Live.Love.Learn.Die’ extends that long finale into oblivion. The last two tracks should have either been cut or reworked into earlier parts of the record. ‘Kayumanggi’ would have been a perfect finale. (Or, end the album with that track and cut ‘Live.Love.Learn.Die’ to just a spoken word finale following it.)
‘To Destroy Something Beautiful’ is a terrific record. With the exception of some occasional meandering and self-indulgence the likes of ‘Robin Padilla,’ it’s a rather profound effort. It’s very intelligently written, and quite honestly, reminds me a bit of my favorite record of the year - ‘To Pimp A Butterfly.’