We review the new Album from Omar Basaad – Mindcation
Going into Omar Basaad’s 17 song behemoth, Mindcation, it’s immediately evident from the opening track that there’s a lot to unpack.
Crown immediately starts with an intricate drum beat and established beat. This gives way to a false start before the track gives way fully. The drum machine and various after effects make for a catchy beat that’s full of attitude, and really hits home a strong modern pop feel. One that’s full of great lyrics and a nice featured credit to the backing vocals of Rey Khan.
Dance For Me, is similar in it’s genre. But immediately sets itself apart with a much crunchier beat that boosts the bass to a heavy hitting heartbeat. It’s a little more relaxed and smooth and takes a more minimal approach. The vocals here are altered heavily to fit the deep beat, taking on a mysterious and slightly seductive song. Topping it off with some whistling and string stings to juxtapose against the lower octaves, it makes it much less than a one note track.
Moving to an EDM genre with the third track, Nehayetnah Eh, there’s a heavy emphasis on the the genre shift. Utilising a rising beat that builds to a drop and chorus is a staple of the dance music genre that’s used to it’s full potential here. The intricate catchy beat that is so deep that it’s more like a feeling than a drum beat. With the vocals entirely provided by HANA, the featured artist on this track, there’s a very classic electronic feel laced throughout and one that would be very welcome at any club or rave.
POM sets itself apart as a much more serious track straight out the gate. With an uplifting and powerful spoken word segment describing how ‘you’ll be big in this music thing’, it’s clearly a very personal track. This is reflected by the regret laden lyrics, the most intimate and interesting ones on the track thus far. These lyrics are once again backed up by the continual high quality backing track, one that here is filled with the same drum machine beat, some guitars and plenty of after effects. With POM standing for Peace Of Mind, it’s easily the biggest hitter thus far.
The next track, Electric Lady, takes a much lighter approach, mixing the usual dance music approach that the album is full of, with the solid lyric writing of POM. This time round it’s much more light in it’s delivery, describing the titular Electric Lady. It does fall slightly flat though, and shows signs of the album losing some steam just a little. There’s a definite lack of anything distinct here.
In Miami, brings back a heavy beat that’s full of attitude and does some course correction for the album. With the implementation of flutes and some latin style guitars, there’s much more flavour on display. Along with a return to some solid lyrics, describing someone playing with the singer’s feelings.
Zoom is the final track before the brief interlude, and is the shortest proper song on the album bar the closing track and interlude. It’s clearly an example of filler and one that could have easily been cut. There’s very little substance beyond it’s basic lyrics that mostly consist of a chorus that’s played three times in the 2-minute run time. It sadly shows a little too much hubris on a wholly unnecessary track.
Knowing Interlude marks the halfway mark of the album, and does its job pretty safely. With some echoed lyrics and an atmospheric backing track, it’s a safe bet and acts as a nice bridge between the two halves of the album.
Kicking off the back half is Treat, and by this point it does feel like Mindcation is really beginning to retread old ground. The beats begin to start sounding very same old same old, lacking the strong lyrics and strong beats of the opening tracks. The additional feature provided by Hrtbrkfever don’t do much to save the track either, not adding much to the song.
Crash and Burn is a much better use of a featured guest, this time featuring Bobby Raps. Bobby does give some solid attitude to Crash and Burn, bringing in some intricate and solid rap verses. Even these though are not without their own issues, bogged down by a slightly mumbled delivery and an overuse of autotune. Though it’s nowhere near as egregious as some of the shock rappers of today, it’s still a little off putting when the unedited rap verses would be sufficed nicely.
Eduard Luli is the next featured artist, and similar to Bobby Raps, provides his rap talents to Not Right. Although it’s not riddled with autotune, his verses are just full of expletives and feels like he’s trying too hard at times. Despite this he Eduard Luli takes the spotlight fully and does a solid job carrying the track on a minimalist beat.
Sky, is the first track in quite a track that really feels like it sets itself apart from the rest of the pack. There’s some interesting sounds on display here and some much better use of the post production. The more distinct sound though is slightly mired by the vocals of A.Y, who feels like they’re pushing out the lyrics as fast as they can to stay with the beat. It’s a slight gripe but does feel a little forced at times, and this could be easily remedied by featuring one of the other artists who’ve already made appearances.
McLoving finally marks a return to form, this time returning to a full dance track that’s not littered with mumble rap, and using a great beat. It returns to the hard hitting beat, interesting sounds and dance music staples and a fantastic beat that’s immensely catchy once the drop gives way.
High Tech Low Life, continues this return to form. Pushing a hard hitting beat, some clear and solid lyrics and a great use of a featured artist. Rey Khan returns here and provides some of the best vocals on the entire album with this track. It’s a breath of fresh air and shows that there really is some great substance and interesting tracks still to be heard. Everything from the beat, usage of instruments, lyrics, and vocal performance are all on point here.
Busy Body is the best received track on the album, with the highest number of streams on the entire album. It’s easy to see why as well, incorporating Caribbean and Latin elements, along with horns into the track. It’s the most distinct and interesting track by a long shot, and really flexes those muscles in great ways. Emmy Jhay brings some solid vocals to the song and accentuates the interesting feel to just another degree.
The penultimate track on the album, Break It, rounds out the best string of tracks on the entire album, bringing in elements of soul, motown, and latin guitars once again. J Fitz gives an absolutely incredible performance with his vocals, bringing a powerful soulful vocal performance that gives absolutely everything to the track. Backed up by harmonica, and a backing gospel choir, it’s hands down the single best feature on the album and rounds out the albums featured tracks on a high note.
ADIO closes the album in a similar way to it’s start. Acting as a great atmospheric dance style track which marks the end in a way that ties a bow round the metaphorical present. Whilst not blowing off the doors and not meaning to be anything more than an extended exit, it’s a solid track nonetheless.
Overall, Mindcation is an interesting examination of several modern genres and how they can be blended together for both incredible and disastrous results. Whilst songs like Break It, Busy Body, Crown and Dance For Me are all solid tracks, with a few more to be cherry picked depending on the listener. There’s a serious feeling of bloat surrounding the album, especially in the middle. It does feel at times that there’s an obligation to feature some artists on some tracks, with a few of these feeling very one note, such as Crash and Burn, and Treat. Mindcation is an album full of duality, hitting incredibly high highs, and low lows. It could have easily benefited from rendering down to around 11 tracks vs the full 17. It could have felt a lot smoother, tighter and higher quality, rather than an uneven and, at times, overzealous album.