Jan 27, 2016

Editorial Review: Elephant Eyes - @Omen

Chi-town's Omen shakes up the game with his latest solo offering, Elephant Eyes

We already know he's signed to J. Cole's Dreamville label and been featured on a lot of Cole's earlier work. After all this time, Elephant Eyes is his first studio album. The project covers a lot of themes we all could relate to. Young brother with Daddy issues journeys through a life headed for stardom. How does it effect him or the people around him? How's the love life? How does he fit in our generation? Is he going to be great or just another piece to a bigger star's puzzle? Let's get to it.

In my opinion, Elephant Eyes doesn't really kick into the swing of things until track four. Every track has a theme and is essential for the story, but it's really just built up to the climax where he really debuts his skills. Omen really spends his time in Elephant Eyes trying to find his place in this hip-hop world.

Motion Picture kicks things off. His own produced track paints Omen in a bar reflecting. It's safe to say that is the setting of the entire project. Love Drug breaks down the story of the millenial. We've become the "show and tell" generation as my mother says. There's no mystery to us because we has a sick addiction to social media. Omen isn't afraid to attack our abuse of attention. CJ Hamilton talks his sh*t off the hooks. He represents the vanity of the young boys and girls of today. His twitter name at the end of the song is sad but true. Hilarious nonetheless.

Same Jezebel. One verse. One bridge. One hook. Not much to love or hate here. A place holder that's too long to be an interlude. The self title comes next. They say elephants remember everything, so does Omen. He recalls a past love and explains why they didn't work and how she calls him elephant eyes, rough breakup too. There's a skit at the end of the song that leads into Father Figure. I broke down the song in my editor's picks a few weeks ago. Same plight of a lot of young brothers without their father in their lives. It's kind of reminiscent to J. Cole's Breakdown from the Sideline Story.

One of my favorite projects on the album is Sketches of Paranoia featuring Bas. A little bit before listening to the album I watching Omen, Bas, and Cozz on Hot 97's Ebro in the Morning. They talked about their perspective careers and how most of their production and features were in house. That explains why he chose to keep his labelmate on this song. Omen talks about trying to remain humble in his new found stardom, while battling his vices. Bas joins with a story about a man in jail and his relationship with his son.

A rap album isn't complete without a collaboration with an R&B singer. Sweat it Out enlists the talents of labelmate Ari Lennox. This slow jam samples the string section and chorus from Justin Timberlake's Set the Mood Interlude from FutureSex/LoveSounds. Her voice is so unique to me. It sounds different on every song but she really just sounds like her. Zuri said she heard an Erykah Badu influence on Backseat. I can hear hints of that in this song too. Omen's verses tell a tale of lusting for a girl that isn't his. It happens sometimes (but I wouldn't know anything about that).

The next track Foolish Pride takes us from calm, cool, collected Omen and his childhood transition to who he is today. Not exactly a troubled kid but a tested one. Anyone who's transferred to a new school knows the anxiety that follows. It's short but essentially it's a reprise of his verse on J. Cole's Enchanted on Friday Night Lights. The song is followed by a monologue from Rocky Balboa and an interaction with his son and living in his father's legacy. The skit is tailor-made for the next song Big Shadows. He's essentially just a young emcee who came up with J. Cole and doesn't want to be seen as his protege. Ironic because J. Cole is featured on the next song, Things Change. The Ron Gilmore production serves as another climatic point in Elephant Eyes. The duo transcribe their rise to fame and how it effects the women in their lives. I love this beat. It's so smooth, but still upbeat. This is great song to ride on the parkway, run on the treadmill, or mediate with. The project concludes with Zion. Like the sample from Lauryn Hill, Omen pays tribute to his love on this track. This man on the road isn't afraid to settle down. "Nothin' makes a man feel better than a women. Nothin' make a man feel better than a Queen with a crown that be down for whatever."

I really like Omen. His skills as an emcee and producer are really polished. He does a great job manipulating his voice with the melody of the music from his singing on the hooks even down to his outright rap verses. Although he's a name we are just now starting to hear on the grand scheme of things he's been around for a long time dating back to features on The Warm Up. As Dreamville grows I expect to see growth from Omen too. Elephant Eyes took a little bit to kick up but like wine all good things are worth the wait. Elephant Eyes gets 4 of 5 stars on the Ramsey Rating Scale. My favorite songs are Sketches of Paranoia, Sweat it Out, Zion, and Things Change. There are only about two skips but even they serve a purpose. The second part of the album holds the bulk of the meat in this sandwich. Listen to Elephant Eyes after the break.

Jonathan C. Ramsey
Jonathan C. Ramsey

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.

No comments: