I think people, including yours truly, often underestimate the deliberate focus and direction required to compose a seamlessly cohesive, complete album. Its one thing to be a dope artist, have a collection of dope tracks, slap them together and call it an album. It takes a completely different vision to make those tracks complement each other and function as a truly complete album in every sense of the word.
Coming off the heels of introducing Pro to the world, C.L.E. brings to the limelight an emcee by the name of Andale and while his debut, White Flag, falls short of being a complete, holistic album it certainly should not be written off altogether. You may be wondering why Im framing this review in the context of a complete or fragmented album. Well, I have to say that White Flag is solidto the extent that Andales strengths and successes actually force you to recognize the projects weaker parts.
Its fitting, given the Spanish meaning of andale, that things begin with Andale spitting a fast-paced demonstration of lyrical elegance on White Flag Intro. Over an up-tempo rodeo-esque beat, Andale shows his lyrical dexterity by switching in and out of double time in a way that rivals Chicagos famous motor-mouth, Twista. That great thing about this intro is the message that Andale conveys with precision: life is to be surrendered to Christ. On the hook, Andale makes the message of the white flag very clear:
White Flag, I surrender all
Laid down, face down on the ground, prostrate
Father, forgive my flaws
Im waving that white flag and Im beggin you for mercy
Im so dirty, Im not worthy, Father I hope ya heard me
From the outset, there is no doubt that Andale is an absolute beast on the microphone, effortlessly switching up his cadence while sporting a crisp delivery and some sharp punchlines (for example, time is running short like Gary Coleman in a marathon). As far as his delivery and flow, Andale is nothing short of an incredible talent. Im not sure how long the mans been on the mic but it sounds like Andales been doing his rap thing since birth.
Supa Strait is the type of anthem that youll want to bang in your ride. Over a catchy, heavy electronic synth, Andale celebrates Gods everyday provision in a way that doesnt make God look like an ATM, at the same time, hitting on Christs power to transform lives.
Andale shifts to a horizontal perspective on Why I Call U Jesus, a praise anthem directed not just at the listener but toward Christ, enlisting the help of T-Dogg and Verbs. Both guests hold it down, even mixing in a little spoken word for some extra flavor. This track is a genuine, emotionally-provoking praise song, the type that will compel you to reflect on the person of Christsomething even most Christian Hip Hop songs fail to do.
Given the strong first few tracks, including the party track, Party Tonite and the testimonial I Want That (Let Me Know), the second half of White Flag falls short of the quality of the albums earlier parts.
Come Around, a cautionary street tale flops thanks to a banal hook and a lackluster beat. Speaking Murder is nothing incredibly noteworthy but instead sounds like a throwaway track that didnt make the cut for Pros The Blackout and less like a track that fits with White Flag (Homie Please is the trademark C.L.E. street-engaging anthem that doesnt seem forced and fit well on the album). A Capella is cool and all but really has little to no replay value.
While these tracks seem out of place and detract from the early successes of White Flag, the soulful, vulnerable side of Andale is displayed on tracks like Tearz of a Clown and Disappear (Interlude). On Tearz of a Clown, Andales vulnerability becomes visible as he on reflects the pain and agony he has witnessed in his life. At times sounding much like the psalmist, he candidly ponders the why of these events while remaining in posture of praise toward God.
The soulful, guitar-tinged Disappear (Interlude) continues Andales openness on his daily struggles and dependence on Christ. Honestly, these are the kinds of tracksas opposed to the street-engaging anthemsthat fit best with the early parts of White Flag. Its on these authentic, heartfelt tracks, that the prevalent theme of White Flag is best proclaimed, that through the good, the bad, the pain, the confusion, and the suffering of life, Andale still surrenders in faith to Christ.
With only twelve tracks, its unfortunate that the project falters mainly because the album has filler songs that fail from mostly from mediocre execution and the fact that they seem out of place on the album thematically. Instead of being a solid album, White Flag wouldve made a flawless EP if only a couple tracks were given the axe on the C.L.E. cutting room floor.
That said, Andale has certainly established himself as one of the more talented rappers in HHH and placed himself in the front of the pack of new artists in the genre. Not only has White Flag established Andale as an artist to be reckoned with but with yet another solid artist debut, C.L.E. is quickly climbing the shortlist of influential labels in HHH. Despite the albums shortcomings, it is worth the price of admission mainly because Andale, backed by some solid production, is more often than not exceptional on the microphone.
Release Date: May 1 2009
1. White Flag Intro
2. Supa Strait
3. I Want That (Let Me Know)
4. Why I Call You Jesus feat. T-Dogg & Verbs
5. Party Tonite feat. Joint Heirs
6. Tearz Of A Clown
7. Let Freedom Bang (remix) feat. K-Drama
8. Dissappear (interlude)
9. A Capella
10. Come Around
11. Homie Please feat. Pro & Brotha Tone
12. Speaking Murder feat. Kingston & Pro