Mixtape Review: Erick Arc Elliott - 'almost Remembered'
It is rare for an artist whom you've never heard of to immediately cement themselves into your regular playlist, but Brooklyn-born Erick Arc Elliott has done just that with his 'Almost Remembered' mixtape...
"I created 'Almost Remembered' with the intent to showcase my musical interests and to illuminate my life experiences," Erick told me at his New York home. A thinking man’s rapper, the diversity and depth of Erick’s music reveals a spectrum of emotions, from love and vulnerability, to swagger and intellect.
Much longer than your average offering, but maintaining a calibre that most artists would envy. Erick vocals beautiful original production ranging from classic hip-hop to fully-fledged soul, reflecting his varied family influences. "More than half of it was recorded in a professional studio, and the other portion was written, recorded, mixed and produced in my bedroom." This isn't regular rap, he has a way with words that beguiles a deep intensity and, for a first release, it should be seen as a signpost for a real future talent.
"People have stated that this is undoubtedly the best body of work I've put out so far, and the order of the songs makes it an easy play without skipping any tracks," Erick explained. "I've also heard ‘instant classic’ as well as a few hateful comments too, but that’s necessary because it always balances things out. When people can't identify what makes something original or good, they are quick to say you sound like someone else because they have no one to identify and compare you to."
Going through each track would leave me crafting a review full of superlatives that may even seem too good to be true. Instead, we did something a little different, I picked the five tracks that I thought best represented the piece as a whole, and Erick talked us through them. (It was actually really difficult to pick five tracks, the whole album works so well together that it almost sounds alien when taken apart) but let the music (and the artist) do the talking, as they say.
'Pimptroduction' is a beautiful opener, a soothing guitar and mellow backing vocals are overlaid with introspective, sombre lyrics. There is no pretence in this prologue, the hardships of the struggle and the love he has for his friends all told in beautiful passages, this one stands out in particular, although it reads a little like the philosophical, hedonistic stylings of Drake.
Erick: "I was never a huge smoker, but a lot of my pent up frustration on this record addressed relationship and financial heartache, and I picked up a short-lived cigarette addiction to deal with the things I felt I couldn't handle. It's hard to call myself as being 'gifted' because of the people I idolise, their knowledge of music, and their success. I have so much more to learn, and humbling myself is the only way to continue learning."
'Almost Forgotten' is the third track, it dallies for around 50 seconds before introducing a slow, minimal beat that Erick services with what can only be described as dopeness. An esoteric reference to the cult blog, The Madbury Club "Flows that'll crack levies, so it's said short spread like Madbury" will be a highlight to those that know, but eloquent weed-rap like "I'll smoke this whole clip until my eyes vignette" is typical of the unconventional vocabulary of Elliott.
Erick: "This is one of the last songs I wrote before the release of the CD, and happens to also be one of my favourites. I feel like most artists indulge in some form of 'drug', and I think it's really cliché to talk about drugs."
'Keep U (I Like)' is a fair way into the tape and it's incredible. A real soul beat, complete with breakdown, provides funk that just normally doesn't come from rappers. This needs to be heard more than it needs to be written about.
Erick: "This song actually came to be toward the end of the CD. There was a cut that wasn't going to make it, it had the same lyrics and almost the same beat as Keep U, but my DJ had an interesting idea of how to flip the track to make it better. After he remixed the beat, it had this crazy 90s feel. I sent it to Kaya and the rest is history."
'Love Ripple' is the next song and, in my opinion, is one of the strongest tracks on the mixtape. Another atypical beat, this time rippling, creates the perfect slowed down instrumental for Erick's nonchalant, smart lyricism.
Erick: "When I made this beat, I had some of the lyrics in mind before I even recorded it. I feel like every good hip-hop CD needs a feel-good track that has touches of realism in a sense everyone can relate to, and Love Ripple has all of that."
'Sorry (But I Gotta Go)' has the emotive beat and hook of a song that wouldn't be incongruous on daytime radio. Erick's rendition of the classic relationship between an aspiring rapper and girlfriend, reminiscent and sentimental it highlights the commercial appeal he has as an artist. Considering this is the most pop-orientated the mixtape reaches, it's a welcome relief from auto tune and explicit, cheesy songs about sex that other rappers on the come-up turn to.
Erick: "Considering I don’t make songs with the motivation of radio play, this is about as pop-friendly as the CD gets. This was actually something I’ve been thinking about whilst waiting for my moment to become a big star. I’ve always thought it would be difficult to manage a relationship whilst traveling around the world, doing interviews etc. and I wanted to paint that picture."
Download Erick Arc Elliott's mixtape, 'Almost Remembered': H E R E
Stay up to date with Eric on Twitter – www.twitter.com/ErickArcElliott
Words by: Jayga Rayn (@Jayga)
Online editing: Joseph 'JP' Patterson (@Jpizzledizzle)