Laws - 4:57 PM Mixtape

Posted February 18, 2010
Tags: Laws,

From its earliest days in the nearly apocalyptic South Bronx, hip-hop has always been an...

4:57 Mixtape Album Review

From its earliest days in the nearly apocalyptic South Bronx, hip-hop has always been an underdog art form, a music and culture that almost impossibly took the lowest of the low and flew them across oceans on private jets. Hip-hop loves an improbable victory, and that’s why hip-hop loves Laws. Once a shy kid growing up in rural Spring Hills, Florida, adopted from his native Brazil, the statistics say we shouldn’t be listening to Laws new 4:57 PM mixalbum, and yet, here we are.

Laws released his first project just over a year ago, the bold and arrogantly named Your Future Favorite Rapper, three months ago he made his DJBooth debut, and now he’s widely hailed as one of the game’s hottest young rapper, signed to Warner Bros, dropping mixtapes with Don Cannon and, perhaps most importantly, making music his full time job (hence the title; 4:57 was the last time he clocked out of a job). No success comes overnight, but for Laws, it’s pretty damn close.

The first we heard from 4:57 was Number One, a cross-coast collaboration with Jay Rock whose banging style makes it one of the album’s most street ready cuts. But although Number One falls just slightly outside your “average” Laws tracks, there are hints of his higher lyrical aspirations apparent to anyone willing to listen close enough: in the first verse alone he drops references to hip-hop’s supposed death and resurrection, Nicorette, and Murphy Brown. Yeah, the man’s not exactly your average rapper. But Number One is far from the only aggressively oriented cut on the mixtape; after all, he does have a song called Murder. Although the homicide here is purely of the microphone variety, Laws is still goes for the jugular, and, although he doesn’t have a truly intimidating flow, Murder is still ready evidence that he’s not afraid to rumble. Throw in Colors and 4:57 offers no shortage of proof that Laws is not to be fu**ked with.

Laws is signed to a major now, which means the higher ups will be expecting him to turn out a radio jam, but 4:57 shows that he’s still got a little ways to go in the smash single department. My Chick is the project’s most obvious choice for the ladies jam, a track that finds Laws painfully dumbing down his flow to match the retro-80s vibe. In short, My Chick is just way to close to LMFAO for comfort. It’s a similar story on Wall to Wall, a cut that gets points for experimenting with a rock style, but falls just a shade short of truly working. Still, if Vintage Futuristic 2 is any indication, the man might just have a hit single in him yet. Instead of amping up the energy, where Laws is weakest, here he keeps it nicely mid-tempo, allowing his lyrical charisma to truly shine (it’s not every rap song that tries to rhyme “Achmed”). Laws has some room for improvement when it comes to having his music find a home on radio, but he’s young and talented. If he doesn’t push too hard, it will come.

Laws’ fanbase is undoubtedly a diverse bunch, but those reading this review on DJBooth (which, upon further reflection, is everyone) are first and foremost interested in his hip-hop credentials, in his raw rhyme skills, and luckily it’s here that he truly shines. Speaking of which, Shining might just be my favorite track off 4:57. As true hip-hop heads should be able to immediately recognize, Shining was produced by 9th Wonder, and Laws puts this impressive production co-sign to good use, dropping a flow that impresses when it has to and lets the beat breathe when it doesn’t (the sign of a mature emcee). On second thought, Hold You Down might just be my favorite song. On Hold You Down Laws chops up his normally smooth flow to match the stuttering DJ Khalil beat to rewind-worthy effect (the Webster punchline had me laughing out loud). Then again, I could also give best of honors to the deeply autobiographical and supremely smooth Want It All, or even the more epic Run Away. The point it, 4:57 isn’t a perfect project, but it’s not supposed to be. It’s supposed to get us excited about Laws’ future, to show us the full range of his talents, and on that level, well, let’s just say I don’t think Laws will ever work a day job again.

DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins

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Posted February 18, 2010
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