Escape from New York: Beast Coast (Album Review)
Escape from New York dropped on May 24th, 2019 and I haven’t stopped listening to it since. I have one lingering question about Beast Coast that I want to discuss before getting into my review.
I’m wondering why there aren’t more Pro Era members in Beast Coast and specifically why CJ, NYCK, Kirk, Joey and Pow P on production, were the members were placed in the collective for this project. I understand that Pro Era has like 15 people in it, so having all members on the album would overcrowd the songs. Also, they’re coming out with their own album later this year and I’m sure they’ll all get plenty of time to do their thing. I’m just curious as to why say Aaron Rose and Dirty Sanchez weren’t included. Aside from industry red tape or just using the artists that are the most well-known within the group (because of the success of their respective solo projects) I don’t have any theories as to why they’re the only ones included.
Now let’s get into the review.
The promotion leading up to this album was great. First, the use of LSD25, gave fans something fun to watch and look forward to in anticipation of the album. The Big Tigger “Basement Cypher” was a good way to introduce some nostalgia into the mix. And finally, each artist had their own slow motion video that incorporated clips from the songs. They posted these on Instagram with a sort of vulnerable caption that gave more information about the making of the song and, in some cases, the small video itself. The promotion made fans feel like they were a part of the creation.
I’m really a fan of all the voice work on this album. Voices and manipulation are both so important in rap. On the album, so many of the artists both sing and rap. Part of the beauty of using LSD25 as a form of promotion is that people who are just now stumbling on Beast Coast hear one thing on the show and something totally different on the album. The way I just described it makes it sound like a shortcoming, but it’s not. The reason that its a good thing, is because of the importance that voices have in hiphop. Imagine if Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg and Biggie didn’t have these easily identifiable and strong voices. Part of what makes Kendrick Lamar so great, aside from the obvious, is all of the ways that he manipulates his voice. With that being said, listen to the differences in the way NYCK Caution sounds on “Puke” vs. “Coast Clear.” And Joey on “Distance” versus “Left Hand.” A first time listener would probably think they’re listening to completely different people. Juice's voice is probably my favorite. Its the first voice we hear on the album and it doesn’t disappoint. Like I said, all of the voices are great, but some hit me a bit deeper than others.
I’m really glad that they didn’t try to cram every member on each track, which I didn’t think they would do. However, I do think that some members sort of got lost on the album. Particularly: CJ Fly, Zombie Juice and Powers Pleasant. I know Pow P is a producer and he isn’t like Kirk and Eric who rap and produce. But I didn’t hear a tag or anything like that from him aside from “Coast Clear.” After reading a few comments, I’m not the only one that feels like CJ and some others didn’t get a chance to shine.I will say that the combination of members and vocal manipulation makes it difficult to decipher who is speaking when, but I don’t think knowing who’s who is as important as making sure that the track is fun to listen to.
“It Ain’t Easy, It Ain’t Easy,” was such a great track to start the album with. Starting with Eric’s production, though the first two singles were produced by Pow P is a good choice. Plus, it allows them to bring a crazy amount of energy from the jump. At the end, their voices are chopped and it’s just sonically ridiculous (in a good way). “Last Choir” was also a great track Eric and AK have great voices and having NYCK Caution on the chorus, rather than the verse was a good choice as well (it was good to hear something a bit different from him). “Last Choir” was such a great song to end the album on as a way to remind themselves and the listener how hard they worked to get here and far they still have to go. It also allows them to air some insecurities about not feeling like they're making progress.
I love the track, “Puke.”There is a certain air of vulnerability on this track that I really like. It’s very different from the other bass filled tracks on the album. I like the lyrics and everything, but the reason that I like this track the most is because of the way it makes me feel.
“Far Away” is clearly supposed to be a song for the ladies. I really like it, not necessarily because its for the ladies, I like the hook and the beat. The production has an early 2000s vibe to it. It also provides a sort of break within the album because of the change in subject matter.
I thought that this album would have some politcal mentions, just because of the previous work of Flatbush Zombies and Joey and other people in the collective, but I didn’t notice any. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just something I noticed. I’m happy that Pow P didn’t produce the entire album, Eric also did quite a bit of it. I was hoping that Kirk would also produce a couple of tracks, but that didn’t happen. But that’s okay. The album is so fun to listen to, which i think should always be the primary goal of an album, especially one like this that seems like it was so fun to put together.
So what is Escape from New York? Girl...I don’t know. It is the name of a movie with Kurt Russell and other famous white folks, but I don’t think it has anything to do with the album, but I can’t say that it doesn’t with much certainty (because I haven’t seen the movie). Like I said in my original review (which you can find on my website), it seems about gaining national recognition, outside of New York and their neighborhoods. It may also be about recognizing other parts of their ancestry. Many if beast coast is of Caribbean descent, which we see acknowledged on the album and by CJ in the cypher.