andy b (yes, all lowercase) comes out of an artist collective out of New York City named “LouderKyd”. This free mixtape is a handful of songs performed by andy b and has a host of guest MC’s that include nobigdyl and Eshon Burgundy. andy and the troupe clearly have credentials from the hood as the sound is unmistakably street. The raps are real, and the flow, although unpolished, is clearly from artists who have put the hours in on the craft. The project, “Here, Whatever” is a freshman stake in the ground to introduce andy b.

There are two kinds of rap songs: ones with just beats and raps, and actual songs. This is a collection of both, of which, “The Chief” is the most complete. The nature of the project, including the title, is artful and bohemian so I suggest it for connoisseurs of rap, not to people just looking for “dope beats.” This is an acquired taste as there are gems here but you have to wander to find them. The songs have long intros (common in neophyte productions), and the themes in the raps are elusive. There are clearly Christian lyrics, and mainly in the vein of being thankful to God for saving us, like in “Danumi”. “I Am Donald” has the most spiritual lyrics, talking about the duality of our faith: wanting to do good, but plagued by the flesh (Rom 7:14-25). And Eshon’s verse is a grand slam home run, and you can see why he’s top of the game: great rhymes, tight lyrical theme, and sophisticated.

The beats are reminiscent of early Social Club, but listening to them is like wearing thick glasses: trippy and spacey. Most of the tracks come from a producer named VESTIGE, and at the time of this writing, we didn’t have more info. VESTIGE has chops, but the tracks are simple, reminiscent of many producers in their early years. We’ve seen many of them at Flavorfest beat battles over the years, and then they become the sought after chefs when they’ve had more time in the kitchen. One of these that come to mind is HaloHitz, as his stuff matured over the years and now I’d hire him in a second.

Technically this album is listenable but needs some help as the vocals are sometimes lost in the mix, and most notably, the tracks feel like they are grainy. This could be caused by an inexpensive interface, limiter settings that have too much gain reduction, or mp3 transcoding gone wrong. For fun, I called up the mixes in mono and ironically they sounded BETTER, probably because the mono mix caused the vocals to pop out, and I got less of the shredding effect from the mix grain mentioned in the previous sentence. My advice would be to have another set of ears and for someone to check out the engineer’s signal chain and gain structure, even if it’s all in software.

The track I enjoyed the most was “The Chief” as it felt fully produced and was arranged as a song, not just riffing on a beat. With some TLC in the technical department for a good mix, I could hear this track ending up on turntables at pool parties or hip hotel lobbies. I’m still not sure about the title of the track, even after listening to it several times, which contributes to the “arty-ness” of the whole project. Someone might just be too creative. I would encourage the guys to get this one back in the lab asap, as it could be a good radio single.

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