On the surface, it appears as if Lewis Parker and John Robinson had created an opus that paid homage to the summer — those sweltering three months beginning in June when nightlife booms and students enjoy time away from school. In fact, it would’ve been appropriate, if not somewhat safe, to release an album dedicated to such a widely regarded season. Instead, International Summers is not about that: “It’s a celebration of the revival of that warm feeling you used to get … when you [heard] those next level hip-hop vibes pumping in your speakers,” according to the album’s introduction.
To that end, Parker and Robinson achieve their goals, especially since International Summers sounds like a true celebration of hip-hop that is brutally honest and refreshingly nostalgic. This album, however, ultimately stalls from sporadic moments of tedium and an overall lack of cohesiveness. Although there is good material captured on this recording, it sounds more like a collection of songs without the necessary binding agent to hold the mixture together.
Parker’s and Robinson’s passion for music is abundantly evident, however, and it won’t take long for listeners to realize the same thing. Take the title track, for example, a mid-tempo boom bap in which the emcees discuss the joys of traveling abroad while staying connected to their respective hometowns. Their flair for the passport continues on the next song, the aptly titled “Planes Trains Automobiles”, which is driven by its quiet, yet persistent piano-laced production. A song like “Warrior Princess”, which is an ode to the urban queen, stands out because of the Dilla-esque snap of its drum programming. On “Dues Paid”, Parker warns aspiring artists about the pitfalls of the music industry.
All told, unfortunately, the whole is not greater than the sum of its parts. International Summers is an album full of respectable songs about romance, international affairs and raw lyricism, but it feels more like a compilation or mixtape than an actual album. With that said, International Summers is definitely worth a purchase for those wishing to revisit the summer all year long.