Published Jul 17, 2015Few things are as falsely claimed in popular culture as the word "raw." Raw was Eddie Murphy at his zenith; it was Big Daddy Kane when he was untouchable; it was how Wu-Tang first promised to give it to us. But all those instances were actually highly polished and calculated before the audiences ever got a chance to experience them. "Raw" was divergent from what you'd previously encountered, but it was crafted and constructed to ensure those unique qualities. Azekel's Raw, Vol. 1 is no different.
The album is mostly a repackaging of songs that have trickled out on Azekel's SoundCloud and YouTube channels since 2013's Circa EP. Frank Ocean comparisons were abundant during those Channel Orange-hued times (guilty), but the parallels are less obvious now. What is evident is the value of having the producer/artist's works bundled together, if only to appreciate the variety within.
"Mad About the Boy" is the obvious hit of the bunch, where gated synth pads skewered with white noise bursts provide the canvas for Azekel and guest Shanaz Dorsett's admissions of interest.
"New Romance" is a dark acceptance of being the bad guy in a relationship, while "Holy Matrimony" channels the D'Angelo of two decades ago. On an introspective note, "Chronophobia" synthesizes the universal fear of aging without having made a significant mark during our brief time.
But for Azekel, a mark has been made here. Claiming it to be raw is a bit of a bait and switch, fine, but he's got our attention. (Thunderlightning)