I'd like to start off by saying that when it comes to mix tapes I like them with lots of mixing by a dope DJ and good tunes that's why when I was asked to review H.D.'s Almost Famous mix tape I was reluctant. Because like many of the mix tapes that are flooding the market nowadays this is a mix tape, which is essentially a marketing tool for H.D.'s upcoming album. But unlike most of the other mix tapes out there this one contains only two beats that aren't original and more importantly its dope.
H.D. hails from Queens NY and has enlisted Ashy Larry form the Chappelle show to host this mix tape that provides some funny interludes between the tracks. DJ Manifest handles the mixing between tracks and drops some nice scratches too. But the tracks are what this is about and this could easily have dropped without Ashy Larry or DJ Manifest as a solid album. But H.D. tells me he's saving the best for his album later this year, which if this mix tape is anything to go by should be a dope album.
The production on the album is handled by a small group of producers who provide good background for H.D. to drop his intelligent lyrics over. The Graduate and Mayhem provide the majority of the tracks with DJ Moziac, Mayhem, Hi-tek 1Man and Danny Swain (good to hear Danny producing more dope music) providing the rest of the beats. Unlike most mix tapes and album this one only has a few guests on it, which is good because you get to build a good understanding of H.D.'s character and style.
The mix starts of with Ashy Larry talking about H.D. and then progresses to DJ Manifest dropping some nice scratches before we get to the business of the tracks. Sound check is the first track and sets the tone for the rest of the mix with a deep up tempo bass line, nice crisp snares, a vocal loop and some mellow organs that come in on an ad hoc basis. H.D. shows his skills with some regular rhymes about people who come to clubs to stand next to the wall, getting respect in your own city and getting the silent treatment from the crowd. Nice lyrics combined with a dope beat make this a jam that's been getting a lot of play in my car. The next track to grab my attention is called Fame which has a wicked strings sample over another up beat bass line and intelligent lyrics about the pursuit of Fame but Fame in this rhyme is a woman in the same way that Hip Hop was a woman to Common. The track is great but suffers from an unnecessarily sung hook, which adds nothing to it and only detracts from H.D.'s lyrics and the dope beat.
H.D. is a clear and concise MC who makes it easy to understand what he's talking about and on Pressure he gives us an insight into the pressures that he faces in his life. On the third verse he expands the scope of the song to talk about a friend dealing with the pressure of raising a child and new perspective that raising a child can give you. The music that accompanies these mature lyrics is mellower than the previous tracks and features a cut up vocal sample telling us that its not easy as we all know. The next track that jumped out at me was Metro, which features another MC called variable who works well with H.D. to describe the drama that makes up inner city life. H.D. takes the time to point out the stupidity of suburban kids who name their neighbourhoods after third world countries. This is all presented over a beat that combines a vocal sample and a piano loop to great effect although some would say it sounds similar to Kanye's style I would just say it's a dope tune myself.
Steroids had me hooked form the moment I heard the strings and when the up-tempo beat came in it was just over. Add to that a guest appearance from Zakee, a member of Pitch Black the track is just plain dope. The track flows beautifully into the next tune, The Draft that features a dope horns loop and some echoing organ keys, which has H.D. talking about getting girls. Sometimes a tired subject but H.D. adds some interesting twists to it.
Generally this is a dope project and has many stand out tracks that deserver to be heard. Last straw is a mellow track with H.D. going into the difficulties of keeping your temper that I found myself constantly rewinding the beat is that nice. Split second has a dope beat from Hi-Tek, which is different to his usual mellow style with a guitar loop, marching drum beat, some nice scratches for the chorus and lyrics telling how it only takes a split second to change our lives. He pays tribute to Dilla on the Dilla jam over one of his beats and it works. Comatose is a darker tune than the rest of the album with an ominous sounding guitar loop back up with what sounds like an organ that wouldn't have been out of place in Dracula's castle where H.D. goes into the suicidal thoughts that many people go through at some point in their life.
There are some bad points to this project and one of them is the fact that this should be an album. It's strong enough and the shout outs from the likes of T.I. and Luda only detract from its strength. This project doesn't need shout outs, a host or a DJ mixing in between tracks it only needs the dope beats and lyrics that are there already. He could do with losing the singing from the chorus of Fame and the slow uneventful track Lace me seems out of place when placed next to the other stronger tracks.
H.D. has assembled a group of producers who have supplied him with dope beats that highlight his mature, intelligent rhymes well. If this is a taste of what's to come when his album drops then his album will be one I look forward to hearing. 7.5 out of 10