A little biography on Toki Wright for you: back in 1998 he started the C.O.R.E. and put out an EP and album. Since then, he’s run YO! The Movement, he’s appeared on countless releases with C-Rayz Walz and P.O.S., and he curated the Twin Cities Celebration of Hip-Hop. And after all that, we only heard one mixtape that he put out which was the Low Budget High Quality Meal Plan 3.0. If anything, even though it has taken quite a long time to some, it was a sign of things to come. Now on Rhymesayers as part of the Spotlight Series, he drops his solo album, titled A Different Mirror. Needless to say, it’s worth the wait.
Toki Wright is a hell of a live performer, and on this disc it may have been reduced down just a tad for the recording, but rest assured the fiery passion and evocative message are still present all over this disc. It’s kicked off with “More Fiya” with Benzilla’s burbling, blood-curdling drums while Toki establishes a cadence that’s as effervescent and memorable. Then there’s “Devil’s Advocate” which is a clever joint that is more of a pick-up song in the same vein as “Mind Sex” by Dead Prez. There’s “The Law” featuring I Self Devine trading verses with Toki about the corrupt law system, and the eerie pianos of “State of Emergency” which is similar in fashion but has a much harder drumline provided by PC. The bonus track “Get Up” features Felipe of Los Nativos fame, St. Paul Slim, and Trama, with a very nice dancehall sampled backdrop provided by Reggie Reg.
The most interesting times comes when Brother Ali joins in on the fun and production. There’s the energetic battle cut of “The Feeling”, with Ali providing a nicely built soundscape for him and Toki to bring their fierce verbal artillery. Brother Ali also provides the heartfelt soundscape on “Little Girl”, a song that is more of a heartfelt dedication to Toki’s daughter. In addition, you have the title track of “A Different Mirror”, where Toki makes the best usage of the stirring soul sample.
A Different Mirror is a stirring and passionate debut album delivered by Toki Wright. Clocking in at about 54 minutes and 14 tracks deep, you’d wish it lasted longer. His messages are heartfelt and sincere, and the producers affiliated with this project make sure to provide a thrilling, yet head-nodding backdrop. Without hesitation, A Different Mirror is one of the best releases of the year.