Artist: WordsworthTitle: Mirror MusicRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Kenny Rodriguez
Wordsworth has worn many hats in the last ten years. Sure, hes co-starred on MTVs short-lived Lyricist Lounge Show, written pilot sitcoms for HBO, and appeared in a cinematic film or two, but the Hip-Hop community knows Words best for his ability to drop witty punchlines and jaw-dropping freestyles on command. Having shared the mic with the likes of Mos Def, Talib Kweli, A Tribe Called Quest, Masta Ace, and a host of others, at one time Wordsworth was heralded as one of the undergrounds best. However with no solo debut to boast of, the Brooklyn-bred MC never successfully elevated beyond the status of dope guest MC. In an industry infamous for short-selling artists before they hit their prime, Wordsworth has defied the odds and at long last composed his debut LP, Mirror Music (Halftooth Records). One listen and youll see why the album was worth the wait.
On the church organ clangs of the Ayatollah-produced Right Now, Words reminds us of why he caught listeners attention in the first place: Put your arms up, got you raising your hands / Like you confused about the rules before you take an exam / Like your left ones on a Bible before taking a stand / Words is the inspiration for the creation of man. The braggadocio continues on the energetic Not Fair with long-time partner Punchline, and Words later holds his own on the eccentric Point Blank.
Carrying the nonchalant tone of a vet whos above sparring with mere MCs, its clear that Wordsworths got nothing to prove when it comes to battling. But Mirror Music isnt all fun and games. Take the vibrant Trust for instance, where Words takes a moment to analyze his past relationship infidelities (3 girls at once, sometimes 4 / Sometimes the same block, the same building, sometimes same floor). Later on the addictive soul hums of Be A Man, he can be found scrutinizing societys view of masculinity, kicking lines like a father only shows a boy how to become a man? / Not true, single-parents show the mother can. One of the LPs best cuts is the piano-laced 12 Months, where the MC outlines a year-long paper chase, all the while throwing subtle quips at the capitalist rat-race. Although Words well-grounded, almost conversational flow allows him to convey a message without being overly preachy, things do get monotonous and muffled at times, like the neo-soul sounding Unity. But thats where the producers come in.
With raspy 70s soul and sample-chopping that bump like a blunted Madlib concoction the musical backdrops on Mirror Music are nothing short of ill. Peep the crisp symphony strings on Shoulder, the dark slinking violas on What We Gon Do, or the sped-up falsetto hiccups of Gonna Be. Wordsworth has at his disposal a batch of head-nodding tracks that most MCs would die for.
Having clearly matured from his Lyricist Lounge Show days, Mirror Music is proof that Words is much more than simply a freestyle MC with clever one-liners. Without totally immersing himself into the conscious genre, Words successfully jumps from dropping similes to dropping jewels in mid-sentence. Its been a long time coming, but Mirror Music is one of the better albums, independent or mainstream, heard all year.