Aug 19, 2015

Review: P.O.M.E. - MostDope (@A1_MostDope); A Niles P. Joint

Seemingly everyone and their mom raps nowadays, especially around my hometown of Neptune and neighboring Asbury Park.

Everybody has a SoundCloud of trap/drill soundalike rhymes with low production value and little ambition outside of that. So when I initially heard my little brother’s best friend was trying to emcee under the name MostDope, it didn't move me at all. Then I saw his first video and was quite impressed. Despite being around 19 he seemed like an old soul and wasn't trying to keep up with the joneses like the other young aspiring rappers in his age range. I kept an eye on his career and pounced on the opportunity to review his first mixtape P.O.M.E. (Product of my Environment).  My intuition was correct as the youngblood showed and proved on his first tape, which had big implications for the state of local hip hop. Everyone is now being put on notice as MostDope has made his presence known loud and clear.

Anytime you can open with a saxophone you generally have my attention. So The Way I Feel was a good way to start. Title is self explanatory as MostDope speaks about current events around the way and how he feels about them. The track sounds like something out of a Spike Lee movie. It segues into Still The Same which has a more modern sound but mad a small misstep in the use of autotune. He could’ve carried the chorus himself without it. Lyrical content is still dope through the verses. Life’s A Bitch naturally features a slowed down sample of AZ from the classic track of the same name, but has what may be the best beat on the album with Dilla-like organ work and subtle bells and chimes to make this a slow head nodding type track. MostDope is assisted by Maniac O and while he doesn’t outshine the host, he doesn't hurt the track either. Letter To Star brings an early 2000’s feel to a song about MostDope’s fallen friend and fellow artist Star aka Prize Johnson. It’s a beautiful tribute and while the suburban set may view the inclusion of an RIP track as cliché, it’s a somber look at the possible perils of life around the way. Thematically this provides a good transition into Think About It which is a song I wrote about in April. It still holds up as the crown jewel of the project. Conversely, Goin’ Back switches to a J. Cole type vibe and is more bouncy than anything else thus far. Not a bad song but pales in comparison to the last two, although it’s still in tune with the mixtape’s motif. Radio Ready featuring Joe College is a renamed track that is otherwise the same from when I spoke on it previously. It’s still a powerhouse collaboration between the best emcees from neighboring towns.

Better Days shows that MostDope is capable of crooning his own hooks without needing autotune or the like. Whoever put the keys on this track deserves accolades as they're the centerpiece of the track which also features a verse from Trust. I wasn’t sold on Hollywood Terrance when I first heard it as it sounds more trap-ish than anything, which doesn’t fit with the style of the album or even my personal tastes. However as a standalone track it grew on me. Guest spitter Cin really steals the show here with a versatile flow. Speaking of talented guests, singing ass wunderkind Apollo comes through on Make It Change which gives MostDope a nice change of pace R&B laced track. This one is ripe for a music video and could really blow up. My editor Ramz said that if you're going to freestyle over the Dead Presidents instrumental you have to come correct. MostDope does exactly that and rides the beat like it was his own. Possibly the best use of this beat (other than the original of course) I’ve ever heard.  We switch to a slow jam in Sweet Escape that sees the return of Apollo who shows shades of Frank Ocean on the track. MostDope shows he can slow down his flow for this type of song.   Whatever sample is used on the title track P.O.M.E. is the best on the entire mixtape. It makes for a sleepy vibe that still has potent lyrics. Now this would serve as the perfect closing track to a stellar debut.  Instead, it’s the penultimate song. Outro is the final installment, but he loses me here as every rap stereotype of modern rap I try to avoid listening to makes a showing here (autotune, no differentiation from chorus to verse, that snare roll, cliche lyrics). It doesn’t fit in with anything else on the mixtape and can’t hang with an excellent song right before this.

Even though it’s his first project, P.O.M.E. gives MostDope the title belt for Asbury Park’s best emcee. He stays within a believable lane and doesn’t attempt to do any tough guy posturing or too much bragging which can be common for newer rappers. While there are a few rookie mistakes, they’re forgivable since it’s his debut project and none of them are egregious to the point where he can’t grow out of them. Once he lets go of safety blankets such as autotune-like vocal effects and trendy yet disposable trap production he’ll rise above the masses of dirt weed trap rappers that are his peers (at least age-wise). He’s way too good for those things and doesn’t need them to shine. Other than that, MostDope put together a really good mixtape as far as production and guests. He’s best over classic samples but also has the ability to come off smooth on R&B flavors. Despite being only a college sophomore, MostDope is wise beyond his years and more soulful than most. The more he embraces that on future projects, the better off he’ll be. But for now P.O.M.E. is the best debut mixtape you could ask for from a new independent emcee. Being that it’s his first and he’s already this good, it’s almost scary to imagine how well this kid will grow into his role as King of the Park in coming years.

Rating: 4.1 out of 5


Multimedia Journalist, Founder and Chief Editor of WTM Host of A-Side B-Side Podcast and more. I like to talk about stuff and write it down. Sometimes to a microphone. Either way, I need you to feel this.

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