Bar Exam: Mogli The Iceburg – Sad People Made Dope Music 2 [First Listen Review]
I really was into Mogli The Iceburg’s Tumultu when it dropped. I thought Mogli had a knack for creating nice hooks and could really spit. That song Next with indie tribe hit really hard. Since that album in 2017 Mogli has really been trying to switch it up. It’s been pretty terrific and equally entertaining consuming this music as he puts in this work. His newest project is part 2 of Sad People Make Dope Music. The first one was an EP, but this one is sitting at 15 tracks and about 45 minutes. I’m stoked to hear what he’s brought to the table this time.
For those of you unfamiliar with my bar exams, I am sharing all of my notes from my true first listen to the project. I provide in-depth thoughts and commentary on anything from flows, rhymes, beats, creative direction, track placement, and concepts.
TRACK 1 – Without Purpose We Would Not Exist:
The album opens with a rant from a mom. This is a clip from a viral video numerous years ago. It hits deep and is so relatable. #parentsdontunderstand Guitars grow underneath the mom rant. The melody is catchy and it bobs across the trap beat perfectly.Emotional. This is like if The Used was a hip-hop act. Closes out with that dial up modem sound. Nostalgia. All the feels on this intro.
TRACK 2 – Sky Without A Light:
The verses are laid back but the lyrics cut deep. He’s speaking in a hushed tone. His answers are out of reach. The new day of grace and mercy can erase the trouble in his mind. The beat ebbs and flows. The textures change as the song progresses. The Bridge is dope. I felt like the payoff of the song was there. The rest of the song was pretty low key. Closes out the song with a clip of Ravi Zacharias pointing to how depression proves a greater power. This song just got better and better as it moved along.
“When the sun goes down I become what I hate /
All the lights go out all my joy fades away /
I’m so numb right now this is all that I can take /
When I find myself I pray that this goes away”
TRACK 3 – Distance:
More clean sounding guitars crescendo into an easy beat. Mogli’s emo vocals are great. It has enough whine for it to sound genuine, but enough pitch and tone for the songs to work. Sometimes the emo melodies can detract from the overall listenability because it’s one or the other. nobigdyl.’s verse is flames. I was wondering how he’d fit into this theme. The answer was perfect. Sometimes features can overshadow what happens in the rest of the song, changing the entire scope of the song. But this really was a natural fit.
“Think I need to insulate myself to protect my health from the evil brewing in me /
Pray to God that He restores my heart cuz I hate myself with my patience on empty”
TRACK 4 – Los Santos Customs:
This beat sounds like it’s straight from Memphis. It’s filthy and really has that classic trap sound. What’s this sample from? IT BANGS. Mogli changes his tone for each section of the song. It’s good because it changes your emotion and dials you into what he’s saying rather than him keeping his pitch elevated for the whole song. Intentionality is refreshing. Parris Chariz is the perfect rapper for this song. Man, I really needed another verse! As bonkers as this song was I don’t feel like it fits with the overall vibe of the album. Feels like a one-off, but I also see how it’s an oasis in the middle of these tough to swallow topics along the way.
TRACK 5 – Something Changed In You Along The Way:
Back to the emo guitars. Pretty formulaic so far how he’s starting with the guitars and then the beat drops in. But if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. It’s still working for me.
“You were my best friend and I swear I’d never thought we’d grow apart I still find single strands of your hair In the front seat of my car”
Can you get any more early 2000s emo with this line? So much nostalgia and emotion wrapped up in these songs for me. Tugs at my heart and hits me in a different way. Aaron Gillespie is a really dope feature. Mogli did a cover of one of Underoath’s songs on the first installment of SPMDM, and now he’s got the singer with him on a track. These songs go by so fast. Wow, Mogli just screamed.
TRACK 6 – Dualshock 2 Freestyle:
A lot of PlayStation references here. I probably didn’t catch them all. It’s another modern trap track. All of these instrumentals are dark and ominous. NotKlyde leads off and stays himself. This is one of the best verses I’ve heard from him. Then we have a Grand Theft Auto clip in here before Mogli steps up to bat. The modern tip the song starts with because of Klyde is able to sustain because Mogli pays attention. This is a really cool track, from the PlayStation startup sound sample to the references throughout, to how these two artists hand off the song to each other. We close out the song with a sample from the movie Closer. The Natalie Portman and Jude Law on the exchange “I don’t love you anymore…”
TRACK 7 – What Happened To Us?:
I appreciate when the songs feel like they all fit together. One or two of these transitions has been a little choppy but here it’s seamless. This way he’s able to hold onto the theme from the last song, or even expand on it in a new way. This beat is pretty easy. The less intricate beats help you focus on the performance. It still grows in the right spots though. I like the melody throughout. The falsetto in the verse adds a light touch, then he digs into his guts for the Chorus. I’d love to see this album performed live.
TRACK 8 – I Hate That I Still Think About You:
Another song where the guitars riff for a couple of bars then the beat drops. This song sounds like the others on this album. DyingInDesigner enhances the track. The melody is haunting. We’re dealing with betrayal, hatred. Maybe some self hate even? There’s still emotional depth even if I’m starting to slump at this point in the album.
TRACK 9 – RIP Headphones:
Distorted guitars fade in. Screaming vocals immediately over a crazy beat. Okay! Talk about a change in feel. Woke me back up. There are so many levels to what Mogli can do. This is awesome. Screamo rap is a thing now. Mogli put it on the map. What rapper sounds like this?
TRACK 10 – Metal Gear Solid:
A small change in texture here. This one presents as an interlude.
“Ain’t sign no dotted line move with the tribe I N D I E /
I pour my heart in tracks so run that back and feel with me /
Reciprocate my energy this music is my eulogy”
TRACK 11 – One Tree Trill:
Keys fade in at the top, which is a new instrument for the intro of a song. Talking about a relationship that can’t work. Strong melodic background music. Aha Gazelle’s verse presents to me like a bridge because of the lift in the melody. It was good.
TRACK 12 – Get To The Point:
Clean guitars riff before the beat comes in (yes, again.) The 808s are great though. This hook is tough. I really dig the vibe of this song. Joey Vantes’ verse is EQ’d differently than all other vocals on the album. He was a little more tucked back than everything else. I really liked the performance though.
TRACK 13 – Coming Back 2 U:
An acoustic bed here. It seems to be on loop as the beat progresses. He’s sick of being left alone. He’s asking a lot of questions. Overall it feels good. It sounds like an extension of something else we’ve heard before on this project though.
TRACK 14 – Everything Here, Ends:
This is an instrumental interlude. A lot of effects and reversed guitar swells. It certainly creates an introspective mood.
TRACK 15 – I Don’t Wanna Die Right Now:
This is the acoustic version of the original song that was on “Let’s Talk About Our Feelings.” No big beat and stripped back.
“Tell her I don’t wanna die right now I’ve just been a little sad but my life is pretty rad /
Lil shorty wanna cry right now tell her look into my eyes everything will be alright”
I’ve really felt like the last few years Mogli The Iceburg was dabbling in this sound. He was exploring his creativity and thinking outside of the box about what his music could be. On this project he’s no longer testing the water with his toes, this is a full-on plunge into the depth of his talent and his versatility. This is Mogli in his natural habitat. These tracks are so genuine and so strong at the same time, he really pulls it off. I don’t think there’s anyone out there who really sounds like him and it’s refreshing. Sometimes when you say that you’re excusing an artist for being bad, or “different.” This is not that. This is a new path being paved and it’s excellent.
Overall Rating: Above The Bar
What are your thoughts? Listen and comment below