Heavy gospel samples merge with MPC’s, 808s and distinctive storytelling on the Texan’s strong first long player ‘Lend me your ear’.
And we are more than happy to do that. As much as we’d like to avoid it – we don’t get around comparing him to some of the greats and even though Arod is born and raised in Austin, Texas, he comfortably jumps from 90s west-coast flows (‘Pac Flow’) to straight bars over soulful beat arrangements (‘Adolescence’).
Only a very few artists in the last couple of decades showed up with the full package that Arod is offering in these early stages of his promising career, whether it’s that smooth smoky voice, clever rhyme structures, “I feel you” type of bars, or just the impressive harmony between the production and the artist.
He definitely knows his beat-picking well as this is clearly an album that tells his story – a refreshing take after albums have recently transformed more and more into playlists and collections of unconnected single tracks.
A couple songs in from the Intro Arod takes us on a ‘Scenic Route’ and shows that he knows how to let his features shine without losing any of his own spotlight on the track. While the fourth track on the album is the first to introduce very clear trap characteristics in drum patterns and add lips, the song is carried by real bars and an uplifting soul sample.
The following ‘Grandma’s Blessing’ has our’s too, as it follows with the same uplifting tempo and drops more insight on Arod’s eventful personal life – a young man raised by his single grandmother to still graduate from high school and only drop out of college to fully dedicate his efforts to his big dreams – a career as a musician.
Born in Austin Texas, the 28-year-old got in touch with rapping first at the age of 7 when his dad would come home from stints in jail and rap to his son and daughter.
The young kid became fascinated with the craft of words and rhyming and never lost any of that fascination.
As he grew older, his dedication to lyricism and its masters would grow, with all time greats like Nas, Nipsey Hussle, Eminem, Jay-Z and (the very underrated) Chamillionaire becoming his mentors.
And it’s that touchable Nipsey vibe, the hustle, the wish to prosper for greatness and leave hardships behind, finely articulated over uplifting beats, that makes Arod so different from the rest of the cut right now.
There’s artists that only hit the Zeitgeist, the ones that pop up at the right moment, but haven’t got a place neither in the industry nor in you playlist tomorrow.
And then there’s a handful that are timeless. We’d listen to Arod flow over any type of beat if that means we’re getting more lines, more stories, more of his voice.
He speaks about his past and affiliations to the struggles he is leaving behind, with a maturity that is unusual for any breakthrough record.
And even though he has no fear of opening up about personal topics, Arod is everything but an easy target.
In D.O.A, the track before the album closer, he goes bar for bar with his demons and his path to success, making very clear he isn’t someone you should aim at for cheap shots or name dropping. Because no matter how much of a soulful composition the LP is, this guy can bury you in bars.
‘Lend me your ear’ rewards us with ‘Problem Child’, another bar filled composition with laid back flow variations over high pitched soul samples.
A track that wraps its arms around an album that will charmingly force you to bob your head, listen and press repeat.