West African-born Tabi Bonney recently released his 12-track album entitled The Summer Years. Tabi divides his time between D.C. and L.A., flittering happily between the two locations like the globetrotter his rhymes would suggest. He’s a busy guy. He directs music videos, owns a clothing line as well as recording music. Tabi has been dropping a number of mediocre (and frankly quite boring) viral videos through YouTube. The Bluroc-produced videos showcase the artist’s day-to-day life while visually name-dropping (scenes of Tabi with the likes of Dame Dash and Ski Beats), which I assume is to add some kind of credibility.
Tedious virals aside, The Summer Years is a commercially viable album. It somewhat clumsily walks the line between hip hop, pop and light weight-dubstep. Ski Beats handles the production in its entirety, occasionally providing a solid base for young Tabi to get lyrically busy and show off his verbal dexterity. Other times, the beats are simply sub-par or plain cheesy. Some tracks hit the mark on this release and some fall flat. The clearly commercial radio-friendly tracks bring the release down in my opinion. That being said tracks like the synth-driven “Parachute” suit Bonney down to the ground. He has a real flair when it comes to his vocals. His alliteration and ability to untangle tongue twisters, really entertains at various points during the album. Tracks like the radio-friendly “Chasing” featuring Matt Beilis or “Hello & Goodnight” show Tabi holding back on the technical aspects of mc-ing and relying on simple verses to provide either catchy sing-along hooks or simple rap-along-to –the-radio lyrics.
The Tabi and Ski combination works pretty well in my opinion. Some of the beats from Ski were slightly surprising – pop driven or dubstep inspired. But I guess it’s good to hear a producer working outside of his known parameters. This album has several different musical personalities: you’ve got Tabi and Ski the hip hop act or Tabi and Ski the radio-friendly types. Occasionally you’ll catch a glimpse of the progressive combination of both personalities. Examples: “Top Notch”, “Parachute” and “Groupie Gridlock”. Just get past the sickly-sweet radio jams to hear to the exciting combination that Tabi Bonney & Ski Beats have the potential to be.