Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this edition of the Independent Spotlight, we’ll be shining our gaze onto Endsightt, a rising new indie hip hop act with a fascinating new record entitled ‘The Music Demo.’ The album is a fifteen song excursion through Endsightt’s musical style, one that he describes as “a concept album with his own genre called art rap.” Well, right off the bat, I’ll give him one thing – It’s one hell of a different experience. Let’s dig into it.
Like many albums of similar length, ‘The Music Demo’ is daunting to dig into. It’s an hour and a half long, with most tracks ranging well over five minutes. Fortunately, it’s an insanely eclectic experience that probably justifies its length – something that certainly cannot be said for similar experiences. ‘The Music Demo’ is a remarkable showcase of perseverance, perhaps even proving the most ambitious indie project I’ve seen in the last year.
The titular introduction is somewhat indicative of what the listener is in store for on ‘The Music Demo.’ The well-produced opening is unlike any other hip hop I’ve heard recently – it’s infused heavily with rock. Distorted electric guitars, cacophonous percussion, and compellingly deep composition all create a basis for Endsightt to slide through the sonic landscape effortlessly. His delivery is tactful, and his presence is undeniably refreshing.
Off the bat, ‘The Music Demo’ seems to challenge the listener. You’re used to 99 cent radio singles? Here’s a record that’s an hour and a half long. You’re used to hip hop that’s self-indulgent and braggadocious? Here’s a seven minute opening that croons frustrations over the lack of poetry in contemporary music. Hey, we’re ripping poets apart. But… he’s got a shiny car! It’s a win-win, right? Wrong.
‘The Music Demo’ is a slap in the face to anyone that’s complacent about the shallow nature of modern music. ‘The Plight’ opens with one of the most hauntingly wonderful instrumentals I’ve heard in quite some time. It’s worth noting that the album is best consumed with a really solid pair of headphones – the panning on that opening guitar will send a chill down your spine if you’re wearing some.
‘The Plight’ is a ‘hip hop’ track in vocal presentation, I suppose. I’d argue it’s closer to Howlin’ Wolf than most hip hop. It’s lathered in blues, emotion, and quite literally, howls. It’s a blues track of a frustrated artist at the end of his string. ‘Wolves’ shortly follows with one of the more eerie tracks on the album. When Kanye West annoyingly tweeted about “fixin’ Wolves” earlier this year, he probably should have just spun this track instead of his own. ‘Wolves,’ the Endsightt track, aligns those that would compromise his artistic creation with ravenous wolves circling their prey.
‘Truth’ toys with a borderline funk influence for Endsightt. It continues his righteous crusade for the truth and individuality. For one of the shortest songs on the album it’s filled with more content than most songs thrice its length. Endsightt’s ability to slide from verse to verse, line to line, is impeccable.
‘St. Peter,’ a sublime spoken word pursuit, seems to spiritually succeed ‘Truth,’ continuing with the same themes. As the track evolves, it turns into a pop song that met a ska song and evolved into a hip hop song.
‘Tabula Rasa,’ perhaps true to name, seems to be the point in the album where Endsightt’s music evolves into entirely foreign territory. It’s basically smooth jazz instrumentation matched with Endsightt’s characteristic delivery. He’s slowed down on this song as well, though, which makes for a nice atmosphere, though it does drag a bit too long.
‘White Devil,’ of course, adds yet another genre into the mix – gospel. It’s one of the absolute best songs on the album, and the singers that accentuate Endsightt on it are absolutely magnificent. The funk influence then returns in powerful force for ‘Powers That Be,’ a track that commentates the current racial crisis in the US.
‘John Proctor’ proves a simple, but vastly important item – Endsightt and his band extend their prowess to a live setting. Thus, one could argue the production on the album is actually rather barebones, because they sound the same live as they do in the studio. ‘Merit’ and ‘False,’ in particular, are fantastic vehicles for that prowess, too.
‘5/5’ is a deeply experimental, surreal, exhibition that combines into three or four songs broken into ‘acts,’ if you will. If I was to align it with anything historically, I’d say Lou Reed’s ‘Street Hassle’ is similar, at least in structure and spirit. For an eleven minute song, I had to listen to it twice to absorb it properly, and you will, too.
The final tracks of the album are an existential crisis of sorts – ‘The Test’ deals with insecurities and internal strife, ‘Girl or the World’ struggles with the idea of being a ‘man,’ especially in regard to having a significant other. ‘The Sign’ then offers a sense of stunning finality, ending ‘The Music Demo’ with a truly beautiful movement.
I’ve lauded artists on the Independent Spotlight. I’ve sat back in my studio chair at times and said to myself, “I’ll probably hear this on the radio in a few years.” I don’t know if I’ve ever, in the two years of doing this, felt the way I felt after listening to ‘The Music Demo.’ It’s an independent masterpiece. It’s absolutely, unequivocally, mindboggling. Also, Kendrick Lamar is all over this in spirit – There’s no way Endsightt wasn’t spinning his music when he made this album. ‘The Music Demo’ is an independent ‘To Pimp A Butterfly.’ Listen to it, then listen to it again, then send it to a friend.