If Houston's Rel The Chosen was trying to make an impression, the single CD he handed us in a plain white cover at DJ Premier's show a few months ago at Numbers wasn't doing the job.
The music on the CD, however, made a spectacular impression and certainly made up for any lack of marketing and design beautification. It goes to show. Don't judge a CD by its cover. The mixtape's title, Beautiful Music, hinted to something much more impressive than its plain package.
Calling it Beautiful Music was accurate. This rock-solid 17-track display indeed samples beautiful, soulful music with the majority of the mixtape's beats driving jazzy, silky-smooth, sometimes melancholy melodies, which Rel uses as his backdrop to some restive and elbowing lyrical wordplay.
It's a successful "opposites attract" type of marriage of elegant beats and jabbing lyrical delivery. Rel makes some grown-up hip-hop without neglecting the young cats.
It's charming, playful and, at times, gangsta enough for listeners who may have musical A.D.D. and yet it's mature enough for those who crave the nostalgia of wiping the dust off their father's Al Green records, those who listen to music with patience and absorb it. You can very much taste the ingredients of late-'60s and early-'70s soul on Beautiful Music.
It vibes, well, beautifully.
When we met Rel, he said to us, "I'm just trying to bring something new to the H."
Closer to the truth, he's really bringing back something today's hip-hop generation might consider an old and unappreciated genre. If you appreciate the soothing vocals of legends like Al Green, Marvin Gaye and Donny Hathaway, this is right up your alley.
Here are a Rocks Off's picks for the most beautiful Beautiful Music:
Rel shows lot of promise and is an artist to be taken seriously. See for yourself by joining him for a Beautiful Music listening party at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Doshi House Studios, 3419 Dowling, For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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If you can't make it, then download Beautiful Music here.
Email Rolando Rodriguez at rolandorodriguezjr22 (at) gmail (dot) com.