Vancouver's hip-hop scene and sound has yet to be taken to the next level, but if there's someone breaking ground to get it there, it's SonReal. The Van City native has spent the last 11 years and his last 11 projects cultivating compelling rap music that reflects the vibrant city. One Long Dream is a direct result of that meticulous refinement and, without a doubt, his most complete project to date.
Some might describe One Long Dream as a pop-rap album, but it's a well-written hip-hop album with lush instrumentation. Almost every beat is uptempo, but that shouldn't distract from the high-calibre bars woven throughout; on album opener "One Long Dream," Son raps "Fast forward 10,000 hours, 1,000 shows, 100,000 miles / Few million views ain't justify how I got the sauce, thousand island," a clever line packed with wordplay.
Son goes it alone here, for the most part, though Sid Sriram appears on two tracks; the two work particularly well together on "Don't Fall in Love Before the Outro," perhaps the strongest cut on the entire album. Sid, a natural crooner, sounds better when aiming for those high notes, but while Son doesn't necessarily have the same range, he creates his own sing/rap fusion with confidence regardless.
The album only runs 12 tracks long, but still feels a squeeze too long. A lot of the beats, although catchy, sound similar in style, arrangement and execution — to the point where songs start blurring together. Blemishes or not though, SonReal deserves props for creating refreshingly feel-good rap music in an era filled to the brim with Xanax-induced flows and lo-fi production. (Black Box)