Artist: Che GrandTitle: The Final Countdown (Mixtape)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Jesse Fairfax
As Hip-hop continues to age, its pool of new talent seems to get younger, with music primarily geared towards the 106 and Park audience. Che Grand repping Brooklyn by way of Virginia was a Freestyle Friday contestant himself but his music isn’t made for the consumption of pop listeners. While still under the age of 25 he wants to carry the torch of all around veterans like Big Daddy Kane and Buckshot who appealed to the streets without having to catch bodies on every track. The Final Countdown is the latest in a long line of his mixtapes and the precursor to his debut album Conceptus Opus striking this fall.
“The Finals” produced by Suburb has Che coming out the gate making short work of his foes over soulful keys; and its blaring horns make for a rousing opener. Employing the tried and true mixtape formula of hijacking familiar beats, Che Grand puts a different spin on things as he displays versatility in his choices of what to rap over. “On Your Box” is a jacking of MF Doom’s “Fast Lane” where Che addresses Hip-hop politics, and he displays killer braggadocio over Just Blaze’s “I Really Mean It”. Keeping up with the hottest current sounds he jumps on “Glorious” by Sa-Ra Creative Partners, and a major highlight is “Stepping Over Water” where he and supergroup IlWil excel over Madlib’s “Stepping Into Tomorrow.” Another strong moment is “Grandilla” where he slays over a rare Jay Dee beat. Not only multifaceted with his beat selection, Che Grand’s topic matter extends from the streets over The Game’s “Runnin’” to sending out inspirational thoughts over Talib Kweli’s “Peace of Mind”. He even goes to the lengths of having fun over a rock track on “Just Me” and creating his own slang like “fug” (fudge packing thug) and “Zimbabwe” (marijuana). “92 Jam” is an old school tribute where he and Von Pea break down bad experiences with women from that time period.
The Final Countdown is a highly creative effort from one of tomorrow’s brightest stars. Che Grand is a well rounded, hungry MC ready to stake his claim on the world. The future appears bright as he is still young and determined to win. This is a project well suited for listeners tired of the same old sound yet not ready to explore too far past Hip-hop’s foundation.