Review – Braille – The IV Edition
The prodigious Braille covers a wide turf on his fourth solo project and brings his emcee skills to every area. Not only does he delve intimately into his personal story, the wide-ranging disc is packed with social commentary and the astounding addition of a different producer for each of the album’s 17 tracks. Among the heavy hitters representing are Marco Polo, RobSwift, OhNo, Speech (of Arrested Development), DJ Spinna, 88 Keys, Kno (ofCunninLynguists), S1 of Strange Fruit Project, Mr. J (of the Procussions) and more. After touring with the illustrious James Brown for much of 2005 and 2006, Braille also tips his hat to the much-missed icon. Usually favoring the independent route, Braille has chosen to partner up with the brawny Syntax/Koch team for The IV Edition.
The hot opening track “Beautiful Humanity” welcomes everyone to the party, guitars noodling over thick percussion and eastern-flavored string accents. Braille uses this eastern vibe and snippets of various languages to powerfully signify his warm themes of peace and diversity. Nicely done. Although the album’s spiritual overtones don’t come on strong, the potent “Submission Hold” makes it very clear who the battle really belongs to. Braille dips into his own story over the hard-thumping beats and scratches of “Calculated Risk,” and delves into social commentary on the percussion-driven title track, challenging listeners with his head-on lyric: “The solution to the social issue is you.”
Things lighten up momentarily with the bouncy, playful “The Main Squeeze,” Braille’s nod to the one and only Mr. Brown, and covers his own motivations on the autobiographical “Remember Your Path”: “When I started rapping I did it for the love.” But he’s back to exploring serious spiritual realities through the darkly looming beats of “Constantly Growing”: “The Tent that we live in is for rent, not owned /It withers away and one day it’s gone.” Strings give an old world feel to the stirring love song “Blessed Man,” notable for both its passion and its splashy percussion. Melodic and moving, the clearly executed “Many Stories” covers both birth and death in the most personal terms.
The ghoulish overtones of “Raise The Dead” fit the track perfectly, very Thriller-like, and the dissonant keys and hard-hitting backbeats of “Double Dose” serve a similar purpose just as well. Braille knows how to drive his message home, fitting each track with succinct nuances to seal the deal: his earthy vocal on the churning “Counter Attack,” the simmering madness evident in the taut energy of “Mental Guards,” and the percolating atmospheric vibe running through “Restless.” Braille finally cuts loose spiritually, even to the point of quoting Scripture, on the string-heavy “The Cure,” and the pulsating rhythms of closer “ADDvice” provide a thick bed for his focused spitting on the way out. Braille’s thoughtful attention to detail pays off in a big way on The IV Edition.
Release Date: April 15, 2008
Record Label: Syntax Records / Hip Hop is Music
1. Beautiful Humanity – beat by Ohmega Watts
2. Submission Hold – beat by Shuko
3. Calculated Risk featuring Mr. J Medeiros (Procussions) and Manchild (Mars ILL) – beat by The Are
4. The IV featuring Rob Swift – beat by Marco Polo
5. Main Squeeze – beat by 88 Keys
6. Remember Your Path featuring Rob Swift – beat by Staffro
7. Constantly Growing featuring Speech (Arrested Development), Surreal and Sojourn – beat by DJ Spinna
8. Blessed Man – beat by S1 (Strange Fruit Project)
9. Many Stories featuring Barry Hampton – beat by Barry Hampton
10. Raise the Dead featuring Poems (LA Symphony) – beat by J-Thrill
11. Double Dose – beat by Mr. Mar of the Stieber Twins
12. Counter Attack featuring Theory Hazit and DJ Idull – beat by OhNo
13. Mental Guards (Snitch Blade) – beat by Aetoms
14. Get it Right featuring Ragen Fykes – beat by Kno (CunninLynguists)
15. Restless – beat by M-Phazes
16. The Cure – beat by K-Murdock
17. ADDvice featuring DJ Bombay – beat by J-Zone