While we wait for El Che, the follow up to Rhymefest’s slept on debut Blue Collar, we have a Michael Jackson themed mixtape Man In The Mirror (All I Do). This approach makes this piece more like a mini-album with a full length feel, with subtext to boot. We all grew on Michael but have also witnessed how his image corroded in the public eye, but that doesn’t make his music less hot, and Fest reminds us of this fact.
The tracks with closest ties to the originals more or less pull from nostalgia. “Dancing Machine”, Foolin’ Around” (which samples “Don’t Let Your Baby Catch You”), and “Breakadawn” all produce this feeling where you get gassed off of the original track, and then also enjoy the added element of rapping.
Fest spits about the topics that help him stand out, and also shows moments of maturity on Mike The Mentor (“This can’t just be words, gotta be actions / We love the people and they need satisfaction”).
The whole song is concerned, and one of the core strengths on this tape, showing the worries of Fest in relation to how Black he is perceived.
And who better to have a color conversation with than Mike, who has gone from brown, to white, to goopie plasma. Also there are some impressive guest spots, that how digestible the project is as a whole. “Get Up” featuring Wale, rings with cymbal hits, and quick blasts from a chilled organ.
“Never Say Goodbye” with Talib Kweli has a metallic sound, with cascading bells, also stands out as a tough track. Together with skits placed cleverly throughout, this whole project is a good route for keeping us interested.The Man In The Mirror Mixtape is an expression of artistic anxiety coupled with admiration for the artistry of one of the greats. The mixtape is endearingly cheesy in places, and could knock a little harder, from what Fest has shown us on Blue Collar.
However, as a new interpretation of what a mixtape does, it still provides us with a good glimpse into both what Rhymefest is capable of and how Jackson’s music is timeless and an inspiration.
Rhymefest Featuring Michael Jackson
“Man In The Mirror”