Co$$ – Before I Awoke [Review]

When I was kid growing up, first getting into Hip-Hop, West Coast rap was what I was really into. So now I think it’s great to see so many new generation rappers (Like Kendrick Lamar & Blu,) from the Left Coast bringing out lots of great new music and bringing a breath of fresh air to the rap scene there. Now we can add Leimert Park based rapper Co$$ to the list of new West Coast flag wavers.

If you were to Google his name right now you won’t get a whole lot of info back but what I can tell you is he’s released several mixtapes including previous outings like Tomorrow’s Yesterday and Revelations. If any of you out there are avid Co$$ fans please excuse my ignorance on the guy’s catalogue, I’m only just discovering him. So if you would allow me to present my late pass and review his new album Before I Awoke I’ll start the show…

1. Risen
Produced by J83
A smoothed out, lyrical showcase of what the West Coast is to Co$$. The production is so chilled and Co$$’s flow is so fluid you wouldn’t think he was talking about the hardships of growing up in a tough neighbourhood. But it’s not all bad, he does touch on the positives:

Wisdom over ignorance, my seeds will be the future, my ancestors the former…no flesh of man can stop me.

It’s nice to hear an intro like this where, yes the ghetto is talked, about but not glorified.

2. Spaceman
Produced by Fonetik Simbol
First talk about the lyrics: Co$$ is serving up some great lyrics on that Illmatic tip out the gate.

See what they yappin’ is a fallacy/I’m fresh up off the spaceship, back up in this galaxy/materialistic bitches and fake niggas/ I break dance with rhythm and pop lock with scripture.

I could quote this song for days but I’ll leave you to check it. The beat is a great mixture of classic G-Funk and Jazz piano.

Here’s the video. Plus check what my boy Verbose commented about the video. Funny shit.

3. Khakis And Taylors
Produced by Fonetik Simbol
Damn! This is like G-Funk 2011. The song is reminiscent of what was going on back in the early part of the 90’s but with a 21st century electric feel. Don’t worry it’s not Techno Rap. It’s just that new shit. A Great song to keep that head bobbin’.

4. In The Wind
Produced by J83
There’s good and bad things about using the same producer. The good thing is that the rapper and person behind the boards can strike up some good chemistry and bust out some great tracks. Plus I can imagine it would create less chaos for the creation of an album. The bad is sometimes the beats can sound a little bit the same. In a way the “In the Wind” beat sounds like a tamer version of the previous song. It could be worse I suppose and sound exactly the same (Example: “MC Hammer” and “B.M.F.”) Nothing to yell about here but it is above average. Hopefully there’s a bit of the change in the production sound.

5. When I Feel
Featuring Shawn Jackson; Produced by J83
Going in the direction of a hook-less song with a Dilla sounding beat and things get smoothed out. Co$$ just vents things out here. Touching on subjects like haters (“While I’m holding my head you wanna blow it off”), lost love (“losing a female/sent her an email/spare to detail/I hope you well”), possible failures or triumphs with fame (“When giving my all I couldn’t lose/whether it’s I get one star or good reviews”). Co$$ might sound a little Drake-ish but he still pulls it off. A great track about self-reflection.

6. 10-4
Produced by Insightful
The beats are beginning to sound a little repetitive here. The beats aren’t bad, it’s just so far there hasn’t been much of a variety of sounds. The subject matter should be celebrated though. Co$$ shouts out his homies and denounces the haters while lighting one up. Can’t hate too much on it.

7. What It Is?
Produced by Knxwledge
You know how I mentioned Dilla before? Well the beat provided by Knxwledge sounds like something Common would tear up and Co$$ does nothing less. Had a long hard day at work? Throw this one on. Want something to light up to? Throw this one on. Need something to just simply vibe to? Throw this one on. ‘Nuff said.

8. Burn It Down
Produced by Cook Classics
I won’t be surprised if this turns out to be the second single off the album. Cook Classics couldn’t have chosen a better title as this beat is straight fire (no Dylan). And Co$$ does nothing less then eat it up and spits out some great lines. Co$$’s flow proves be nothing to fuck with.

9. Da Meanest
Produced by Exile
The slow dark tempo makes me think of Kanye’s “Say You Will” but with a more aggressive tone to it. This is the track you’d bump in your ride, just getting in the zone. I’ll probably start my morning with this track from now on. Co$$ is bringing the West Coast style with a new twist on this one.

10. Pot Ash
Produced by Exile
Well we jump from sonic sounds to more jazzy pianos and soft saxophone. It’s a good look for Co$$ to switch up the style and keep things moving. Exile creates a perfect beat for the West Coast MC to gently ride over with some introspective rhymes. This isn’t just dedicated to weed smokers but also those going through hard times. It’s becoming clear that Co$$ can really spit some story telling raps. Great chill out track.

11. Only When I Dream
Featuring Sene & Aloe Blacc; Produced by Chief
Another soulful beat with Co$$ dropping knowledge

While you niggas dream about whips/I catch them lashes from the mental masters.

Raspy voiced Sene drops a decent verse with a fine-spun flow backed up by a soulful hook by crooner Aloe Blacc. The chemistry between them in the studio makes it sound like they could band together to make a group. Maybe add Blu into the mix too.

12. Love Is
Produced by Chief
It’s kinda cool when rappers manage to open up just for a minute and talk about something real. Obviously here Co$$ is touching on a troubled love life. His honesty is shown in the lines

With you I ain’t gon’ front/first time love had me acting like a scrub” and “fuck a bow n arrow/ Cupid got a gun.

It’s just enough truthfulness not to come off as corny. Don’t think this is as a anthem for the ladies, it’s a song for anyone who’s gone through the motions of a turbulent relationship.

13. Born Again
Featuring Blu & Sene; Produced by Fonetik Simbol
Another jazzy piano mixed into a soulful beat. Even though the lyrics are on point the production is becoming uninteresting. One thing that can be said about though is the listener can ignore the beat and focus on the dope lyrics. Silver lining to the cloud.

14. No Allah
Produced by Erik L
Things swing back into the G-Funk column but still with that soul mixed into it. A decent track about the believe in God or the lack of belief from others who grow up thinking there can’t be a higher power from what they’ve seen in life. Again, good lyrics over a decent beat.

15. Scriptures
Produced by The Soul Academy
Ok now we’re talking. Finally the sound has switched up a bit. The Soul Academy add something to the next. Yes, it’s still a soulful beat but now there’s more to it. You got some nice electric guitar, nice paced drums and keyboard. It’s good hear a change of beats right before the end of the album. Again Co$$ goes in.

16. Before I Awoke (No Rest)
Produced by Beatnick Dee
Nice, this a great way to end things. This title track is all about leaving a good impression as we end things. There’s tripped out lines like “engine revvin’/feelin’ 9/11/ I might crash the plane right into the heavens”. This song is more about venting then shock value rhymes. I’m digging the beat, the flow, and the lyrics. Great way to end the track.

Bottom line:
When I first began the album it started off looking good but some things came up.

Even though the beat makers vary throughout the album it’s like Co$$ didn’t put much thought into the beat selections. At first it seems like the sound of the album is going to be interesting and new as far as production is concerned. But the soundtrack to Co$$’s life stories falls flat. Meaning that the album is hit or miss at times. It’s not like the beats are terrible, they are actually quite good but the issue is the sound of them is not varied which makes it hard to turn out a well-rounded album.

I will say his lyrics are great and the man knows how to ride a beat. The subject matter is great and doesn’t just focus on the clichéd things Left Coast rappers are known to talk about. Next time around let’s hope Co$$ proves his worth with a less repetitive sounding album with maybe a few less tracks because it’s clear the guy has talent.

nappyPicks: “Burn It Down”, “Da Meanest”, “Before I Awoke”

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