A couple of weeks ago, in Five For Friday, we hipped you to a Raleigh cat named Tye Banks and some of his songs and videos. The single “I’m Still Cool” is off of his second album entitled “Living A Dream.” The Monster loves that jam, so I was happy to be able to review the entire CD! Tye describes his sound as “Lost Boyz meets Mayberry” which I not only love, but find hilarious. Us NC cats know about Mayberry, and who doesn’t like the Lost Boyz? Plus, with other influences like A Tribe Called Quest, it’s clear that Tye is a North Carolina hip hop head trying to make honest music. That’s admirable and something to appreciate in today’s industry.
Without any further adieu, let’s get into this…
“Living A Dream” starts off with a bang. I love the hook on this. “No matter where I’m At, I Make ‘em scream Cackalack”. Tye’s style is more rapid fire than on the other tracks I’ve heard of his but he’s able to swerve through the beat while keeping that southern drawl. This really is the perfect opener.
This is another track that I had heard before hand, as it is available on his RN page. He describes it as a “party jam” for young and old, but I think it has more of a low-key cookout feel. I can picture this bumping in my man Butta’s backyard down on E. Martin St in the R while we grill up some burgers. “A party ain’t a party if the music ain’t on” <— don’t get much realer than that.
Two words: HEAVY ROTATION. This track comes hard. It reminds me of some of that old school Atlanta rap mixed with a new school R&B feel. This is also one of my favorite tracks, and that is because it’s easy to relate too. Any male out there has experienced the situations described in the song of trying to get a girl to see that you could be perfect together if she’d just come out of her shell a bit. The tracks features Sikora and can be downloaded if you join Tye’s mailing list on RN, or if you sign up for his site at http://www.tyebanks.com.
I’m Still Cool
Another one of those jams we previewed for y’all previously. Certainly the right choice for a single. Brushin’ off the haters with this one and it has the best message of all : DO YOU and BE YOURSELF. Too much is made in hip hop about what you have or where you go, and this song embodies the antithesis of this. Tye basically lets you know that he’s going to be him and deal with it. Talk if you want, but that ain’t going to change him. That’s the Monster’s motto for 2009 too, haha.
Live Your Dreams
Notice a theme here? Music for the people! This one here has a great old-school feel to it, and it has such a smooooth beat. In all honesty though, I didn’t like this track as much as some of the others. I felt the verses could have been a little stronger based on other tracks, but you still can’t deny the honesty of the flow.
Running the Show
Here’s the hop!! “You can’t see me cuz/street buzz…” From jump Tye starts ripping this one. There’s illy wordplay in this track too. And I love stuff like “Don’t care what rappers say / they don’t buy CDs anyway”. This is a bonafide head-nodder right here.
Move Ya Body
This track lies somewhere between getting your drink from the bartender, and actually getting your grind on on the dance floor. I wouldn’t say it’s a full fledge dance track, but more of a “two-steppin with your brew joint.” I wanted the hook to be more enthusiastic and I think I would have been more eager to get out of my seat. However, one of the best lines on this album is in this song: “I’m from Raleigh, where Barney Fife used to come to party”. REAL TALK! haha.
This song was apparently originally done for a soundtrack. I can totally see that because I feel like it doesn’t go with the feel of the rest of the album. After being so true and appealing to the “average man,” a track like this seems slightly out of place. That’s not to say it isn’t hot though. Tye’s flow is strong on it, and carried the song more than the beat or message in my humble opinion.
Streets Love Nobody
Tye’s description of this song is spot on. I don’t know if I can do better: “A song reaching out to young adults, making them aware of their actions and the importance of accepting responsibility.” The best part about this song though is that it gets its message across in a way that isn’t corny. Tye really explains things like leaving the street life to get an education as a no-brainer and the rational thing to do. Hella props on this one. This one could have been in the background of an episode of “The Wire.”
Gimme A Break
I love the beat on this song! It’s a slow, loopy, almost kid-like Carnival feel. One of my favorite tracks hands down. “I got problems on my mind, I work all the time, but still I ain’t got no money….GIMME A BREAK!” Another jam that anybody can relate too, and while he’s complaining about problems in life, the lightweight feel of the track really makes it enjoyable.
Watch A Rapper (Progress)
The Spanish guitar in the backbeat of this track really holds it together. The story of a rapper growing and mastering his style. Another underlying message of being true, dedication to a craft, and focus.
The battle rap track on the album. Lyrically slicing and dicing in this one. I only wish it wasn’t the clean version. Tye’s cadence not to be fuxxxed with on this one.
Overall, “Living A Dream” shows that Tye is doing exactly that. I thought the album was great, and that’s no joke. Tye doesn’t make good hip hop music, the dude makes good music in general. I love the “average man” feel of his tracks and the way he portrays valuable messages to the audience without over-doing it or sounding corny. There were certain parts of the album (like “Cash Money” and “Dying Breed”) where I thought he got away from that style a little bit and it hurt the flow of the album slightly. Tracks like “I’m Still Cool,” “Stop Hiding,” and “Gimme A Break” showcased this style to perfection, however and really set the overall tone and message.
THE MONSTER’S RATING: 7.5/10 . This is an independent album that you are going to want to get your hands on. I wouldn’t neccesarily recommend it if you are expecting something super lyrical, or super beat-infused, but I would recommend it if you are looking for great MUSIC to just ride out too. Got a cookout in the backyard? BANG, bump this. Got a 45 minute drive coming up? BANG, knock this.
Register for Tye’s website here and get access to cool content, free downloads, etc. You can also purchase this album there for only $5.99, so go scoop it up!!