C.Brown is a hip-hop artist born and raised in Erie, PA who has been making a name for himself in the local scene. Even though some accolades have been coming his way since 2012 he has been making music way before that. He started playing keyboards at the age of eight, which eventually transformed into becoming a beatmaker. Since then he has recorded, produced and released a number of solo efforts and his latest The Charles Brown Project EP displays the most realized version of his vision yet.
The Charles Brown Project EP is a fleshed, collaborative effort as Brown invites a surplus of producers to bring their skills to the table. The results are varied, eclectic canvas of sounds and somehow don’t seem to feel disconnected with each other.
This is probably due in part to the fact that Brown’s vocals are the glue that holds the songs together. As I pressed play and took in the songs there were two things that I noticed. Brown’s rapping style felt rooted in the ‘90s and he often reminded me of Tupac. On top of that, Brown choses to rap about subjects that aren’t frivolous. Instead his themes revolve around family, loss, relationships and a lot of things that require an unflinching sense of honesty.
The first song “I Need More” is dark and emotionally heavy as Brown raps about suicide and the absence of his father. It’s a heavy way to start things off and the second track “No Hindsight” does little to relinquish the feeling that Brown inserts into the first song. At least with “No Hindsight” he intertwines some hope in the song. It is obvious that he wants to persevere past his troubled past but even when he says this his delivery sounds dubious. From a musical perspective Brown brings great music to the song. He mixes up dark synths, background vocals and inventive changes, which all were impressive.
The next two tracks “Distraction and Chances” and “Control You” display some speed. “Control” felt fast as the kick drum hits a lot more times then you would expect. On top of that his lyrics come out fast but refined. As the album progresses they are a number of highlights.
Some of my personal favorites were “Hear My Heartbeat,” the smooth-sounding “Somebody Else ft. Tyler Smilo” and closer “The Perfect ft. Rush. Brown tackles different topics such as romantic love, rivalry and personal fears.
Brown confronts a lot of complex emotions on this EP but it usually doesn’t feel overwhelming. The Charles Brown Project EP may not be the most innovative hip-hop around these days but it works because of the solid production and the honesty in which Brown brings his rhymes.
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