Mantis Still Life

Mantis Still Life
The subway car rattles along the tracks; inside is a young man rapping to himself, reading from the sheet that possesses his freshly written rhymes. It could be anyone in this city, you may have had a seat across from him at one point in your travels; you may even be him. This is how the soon to be 25-year-old Mantis welcomes the listener to Still Life. In essence, the album is about the grind: making music that one loves while hammering out a living in the big city and trying to be true to one's self. Seamlessly there is a transition from this auditory scene in to the first track, "The Future Is," in which Mantis lays out his hip-hop manifesto. This track segues into "Real to Reel," an ode to anyone on the hustle, from "backpackers, bookworms to street soldiers." Just as with "The Future Is," the production is multilayered; in this case the track features an infectious twang that makes it the catchiest cut on the album. Mantis also includes two versions of "One for the Money," the later a bonus track featuring JD Era. "One for the Money" is in the same vein as Nas's "I Gave You Power, "however, instead of a gun it is rapped from the perspective of the dollar. Rufus John, Miranda, Justis and Hajah Bug are also featured on the album. Still Life is creative, straightforward and doesn't overextend itself. (Independent)