Back in 2011 I had the pleasure of being introduced to a hip-hop group based out of Toronto, Ontario. A company I was working for was interested in bringing them in as clients, and my friend forwarded me a few tracks to check out. I’m very picky about the hip-hop I listen to. I grew up with rap from the 90s (i.e. Nas, A Tribe Called Quest, Dr. Dre, Snoop, The Roots, The Pharcyde, Snoop, etc), so needless to say my standards, at least in my opinion, are quite high. Beats are one thing, but delivery is another. Let’s just put it this way, based on my own personal preference, I can do without listening to Lil’ Wayne … ever.
The recordings that I was emailed caught me off-guard. The duo of Beck Motley and Bon Voyage surpassed my expectations. They called themselves The Airplane Boys (“APB”) and with clever lyrics and a verbal delivery that impressed even me, I was excited about their future.
Since my introduction to the band, I’ve seen their career take shape. From performing in the tiny On The Rox venue at The Roxy, to taking stages at Coachella and Osheaga, to touring Asia, they’ve been able to experience that which very few new artists are able to experience.
They released two mix tapes (“Where’ve You Been” and “Alignment”) before this year, but their latest mix-tape, titled “Brave New World” takes all of the world and life lessons they’ve picked up along their career trajectory and put it all into lyrics supported by genre-bending beats. Each of the mixtapes listed above are available on their official website.
Sonically, “Brave New World” is complex. The instrumentals are complex. I called the beats genre-bending above, and that’s about as good as I can describe them. “Brave” has elements of EDM. “Broken” has elements of R&B. “Globetrotters” feels like a beat Kanye could have messed with. “Complacent Virtues” sounds like a track Jamiroquai could have sung over. But as varying as the sounds are throughout the album, each track still feels natural and organic … and what keeps it all together are the performances by Beck and Bon, fitting in naturally with each beat, singing, rapping and reciting their prose.
I personally feel that the listener does a disservice to themselves by not listening the album the way it is presented, in it’s entirety. It listens and reads (if you pay attention to the lyrics: which, if you have iTunes, will appear on your portable music device when each song is playing), somewhat like an autobiography of the past year. When all of the musical and lyrical ideas contribute to a single overall theme or unified story, you have a concept album. Whether APB meant to do it or not, “Brave New World” feels like a concept album. It’s an album that speaks to their last year traveling the world, and all of the thoughts that arose for them while being away from family, friends and lovers, pursuing a dream.
“Brave New W0rld” is a solid mix-tape that gives the listener an excellent glimpse into the artistry of Beck Motley and Bon Voyage. Enjoy the sonic flight that The Airplane Boys take you on.
1. “Globetrotters”: ****
Notable lyrics: “I wrote this song on a plane delay, Something ’bout, “Missing Some Pieces or part of the engine,” pilot says, but it don’t matter, I’m flattered that we already in flight”
2. “Never Know” ****
Notable lyrics: “I was in LA thinking ’bout you/ Out in UK thinking ’bout you/ Crossing oceans/Could I be more frank? […] Don’t want to sound that bitter,cause I ain’t that nigga”/ But I can’t belei9ve I was on my leave/ talking to the team/ Saying, “I’ma wife that when I … get back to the city”
3. “T.I.D.E.S” ***
Notable lyrics:”For the things you slaved to, please be more brave, boo/ And fight the cravings that make you hat you […]/ When the noise fades out/ and you’re all alone/ Hope there’s beauty in the break down […] You were the purpose driven/ What’s life?/ You”
4. “Her Fault”:****
Notable lyrics: “Writing’s on the wall, conversation is a mess/ ‘Cause you can hate me more, but you’ll never love me less, less, what/ Tell me what it is when I taste those lips”
5. “Tokyo/The Righteous”: ***
Notable lyrics: “The dollars will come but my dreams are just strictly the basics”.
6. “Temples”: ****
Notable lyrics: “Look at my soul, yeah/ It’s bittersweet babe/ The things we want to know/ They’re incomplete ways/ Your passports all aboard/ The search, you urge for more balance/ haven’t/ have you been around the world/ I… I… I…”
7. “Complacent Virtues”: ***
Notable lyrics: “They took your crown, but don’t let them take your pride too/ Living a lie they suggested don’t account for/ All of the things that you wanted are around more/ Than you expected in a dream/ it’s now or never… ever … close your eyes off the thing you love”
8. “Broken”: ****
Notable lyrics: “Why be with someone you won’t end up with?/ Damn, we future strangers/ I don’t see no rings in the plans/ you say, “Act more like a Man”/ See … if I had time for that there I wouldn’t be flying out to Japan.”
9. “Blessing”: ***
Notable lyrics: “2012 wrapped up in a bag/ You would think that’s enough for me to be glad/ Momma saying, “Relax, Honey relax”, but I can’t if I need change still to pump gas/ Man these niggas don’t […] understand/ What I really be going through/ Thankful for these brand new fans/ Though I know you feeling we over due for the top/ Man we did a lot”
Album Rating: ****
As an added bonus, and for those not afraid of heights, you need to check out this video of the group “roof topping” in Hong Kong. Crazy.