Rating: 4 out of 5 Potholes
More often than not, any hyped release is either deemed a near-classic based off of a few leaked songs or a disappointment since said artist could not possibly top their past work. When I listen to an album I just got my hands on, I’d rather go where the record is leading than to force an experience or sit back and wait to be moved. My conviction has been vindicated by Will C’s Evil In the Mirror (Brick Records). There’s no way that I had foreseen where Will C was going with this record; the ‘throwback’ tag doesn’t do this record justice.
The record is a celebration in the dualities that exist in all of us, with an emphasis on maintaining the balancing act (the back cover states so eloquently, “‘Sometimes the fork in the road itself is scenic”). “Frog Among Queens” comes out with a sonic barrage akin to the early ’9os artistic juggernaut our culture experienced, in texture and spirit. It’s followed by ‘It Ain’t the 8o’s in which Will poignantly states: “Melle Mel said massa makes slaves of us/too bad my heroes were basking in angel dust.”
Like a well done film or book, the middle section of the record is where the artistic meat and potatoes are found, headed by “Infinite Hourglass”. Amidst the dense scratching sequences and changing instrument scenery, Will proclaims “while your peers carry tools of bizarre shit/I’ve seen the years convert to an off switch.” While the tune may seem like a ‘wack emcees’ document, it’s far from that; It is an example of why this record DEMANDS repeated listens to truly appreciate the artistic statement it puts forth.
On the hard hitting yet subtle “‘Be Yourself Syndrome”, Will C’s flow and lyrical performance acts not as the primary piece but as an indispensable part of the whole picture. Throughout the entire record you’ll find that this approach occurs often since the vocals do not sit in front of the music (a newer trend that bothers me about current releases).
The album closes with the title-track, which would be at home on The Nonce’s World Ultimate (if you gotta ask, find the record and come back). The textures of this record vary greatly but never manage to get in the way of one another, which is incredible to say the least. This aspect is one that has to be heard (no, felt) to be truly appreciated, as it does with all albums that accomplish it.
Evil In the Mirror has proven to be one the most rewarding listening experiences I have had the pleasure of having this year. There’s material here worth going back to, but to really enjoy it you’d better be prepared to spend an hour or so remembering why the Hip Hop we all fell in love with last century could, should, and needs to be brought back to the forefront.