Sunday, September 21, 2014

Better You Than Me by Ogden Payne

     One of the really interesting aspects of running a small indie hip-hop website, is that I get to personally witness the growth of aspiring artists as the release project after project. Some artists will have one really strong album, only to release a string of sub-par projects after that. Others will progress, slowly but surely, and thankfully, rapper Ogden Payne falls in the latter of those two, with his third release Better You Than Me easily surpassing his previous works, and launching him into the next stage of his career. 

     While Ogden handled the rhymes, it was his longtime partner and producer, Isaac Haze that stole the show. For those familiar with his past work, it would be noted that he is a decent producer, with a minimal range of variety. Now, however, he has shown the he is a very talented producer that has an extensive list of styles to his arsenal. 

     Haze produced every track on the album, and every track is really something to be admired of in terms of the production. His best work, in my opinion, comes on the track "Baby" where in this track, it's all about the loops. As far as the rest of the album goes in production style, it's not boom-bap, but far from trap. His sound best fits in more of an upbeat R&B category, and even that could be a stretch. On many of the tracks, Haze seems to incorporate a modern stylized beat, with a bit of an original twist. His sound is hard to describe, and often times that's the best case scenario, because it means there isn't much out there like it.

     Since Haze was holding up his end of the bargain, Texas native, Ogden Payne must have felt the pressure to elevate his craft as well. For the first three tracks of the album, his cadence and flow is reminiscent of Andre 3000 circa 2004-2006 (Love Below & Idlewild). While that wasn't 3-Stack's musical peak, it was still 3-Stacks and that should be taken as a compliment towards Ogden's sound. Additionally, the intro to this album will get just about anyone who listens really pumped for all that's about to follow. For all the artists reading this, take notes, because this is what an intro track should be! The track was catchy, and exciting, it was a good track, but not the best. It's good enough to keep the listener's headphones on, but not to an extent to where it was hard to top, so shout out to Ogden and Haze for making an ideal intro track.

     Following the masterful introduction, are seven tracks each presenting a unique story and glimpse into the life of Ogden Payne. His lyrics are genuine, strong, and above all, they're consistent, as he never really ventures too far out of his realm, and that really attributed to the successful finished sound of the album. That being said, listeners may notice one or two "simple" rhymes on just about every song. Meaning that about once every song, there will be a line that just doesn't fit due to it's simplistic nature. 

     The deeper this album goes, the better it gets. Every track seems to be better than the last which creates a really exciting listening experience. The beats are solid, the rhymes are strong, and that adds up to being the best work Ogden Payne has put out. This album, unfortunately, won't reach as many ears as it deserves to, however, those that do hear this album should find it easy to agree with the previous statements regarding Better You Than Me. This is one hell of an album, and that's this most simple way to put it, so do yourself a favor and download this great release!


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