The elder rapper — who is 47 years old and dropped his debut LP, Symphony in Effect, in 1989 — gives an arrogant youngster an old school dressing down on his new EP, Compositions, Vol. 1. The seven-track set opens with "I Know Your Mom," on which the pioneering hip-hopper unleashes a torrent of clever but decidedly PG-13 disses like "Your mom's oatmeal was lumpy, but damn that sofa was comfy," before delivering a more stinging jab about the deportation of the boy's biological Dad.
Other tracks, like "Underestimated" and "Born in Toronto," lack such lyrical dexterity. On the former, Maestro sounds downright crotchety as he bemoans not being given his due and engages in a bit of half-hearted chest thumping as Canadian R&B star JRDN sings a cringe-worthy, corny chorus. Meanwhile, Maestro's rhymes on "Born in Toronto," are so simplistic they would've been considered obsolete decades ago. (Sample: "Watch how I cruise in Toronto, got nothin' to prove in Toronto… got a condo and a model").
Fortunately, the veteran rapper shrugs off these missteps and delivers a few of-the-moment turns that make him sound more than spry. On "I Can't Breathe," Maestro and fellow T.O. rhymer King Reign trade harrowing verses about police chokeholds and institutionalised racism. Fresh Wes' lyrics might be even more technically impressive on "This Is My Universe," on which he spits downright literary rhymes about there being "no consolation in my constellation" and how he has a "supreme aura, sort of like a javelin," before lamenting that it's "lonely at the top when you don't believe in gravity."
While he may not reach for that poetic stratosphere often enough on Compositions, Vol. 1, Maestro at least proves that rookie rappers can still learn a thing or two from their elders. (Fontana North)