Album: Ocean Howell
Expectations can obscure the quality of what's before you, which is why most first listens of your favorite band's new CD are underwhelming until you let them grow on you. In La's case, the effect is compounded by the fact that it usually takes two or three listens to fully digest the onslaught of lyrics packed into each song. The Seattle MC is locally-renowned for his complex lyricism, and his new album Ocean Howell delivers without question. For full intake, though, back-to-back listens are recommended.
"They be like 'dang, why can't he rap about change' fine/today I smoked a quarter, and slid in and out a dime/say some real shit on they show, they say we out of time" he spits on "Keenan Milton". The song's about social issues from the perspective of an underprivileged narrator, and shows off the heart of La's talent, which is in the spilling of detailed, thought-provoking lines, while conserving the smooth musicality of the instrumental. He raps in the pocket rather that simply over the top of a beat, and does so tirelessly for as long as any given song calls for. Amazingly, all nine tracks on the album display a comparably high level of word-play and overall flow. He's done nothing but get better over time, and at this point has emerged as the most well-rounded MC in the city.
Produced by his friend, local beatmaker Olee, Ocean Howell is perhaps La's most cohesive project since his local classic Gravity, which is in part due to the loose concept that drives it (which our Keegan Hamilton nicely investigated last week). To someone who's merely a casual fan of pro-skateboarding (such as myself) the references are a bit hard to follow, but the fact that it flows nicely is apparent regardless.
Find Ocean Howell on La's Bandcamp page, or stream it below.