There is a new kid on the block. His name is Josh Baze.
To be honest, I’m not even sure what I mean by “block.” I guess I’m referring to the rap game in its entirety. Nevertheless, this kid hits hard and in all the right places. While I would love to continue this drool-fest, let’s take a couple pills and relax a little; or maybe just me?
Hi-Heels & Low-Lifes is the debut full-length by a young and talented up-and-coming hip hop artist. Josh Baze figures it all out, and he does it quickly. The young MC from Brooklyn (raised only blocks from where Notorious B.I.G. grew up) dishes about Obama, Hollywood, stardom, love and of course, bitches. While the album sticks to some pretty basic themes, the content and structure are as unique as anything you will ever hear. Not bad for a 21-year-old former Versace model.
The first single “Escape” is more than likely the first thing anyone will have heard off the album. It hits hard, especially in that first verse, and is extremely reminiscent of B.O.B.’s debut (minus Hayley Williams). Even though “Escape” is the heavy-hitter, there is not a weak aspect of the album. Baze shows a softer side in my personal favorite “Where I Am” where the beat and guest vocalist Sarah Jaffe work beautifully. The track reminds me of Yelawolf’s “Write Your Name” off 2011’s Radioactive as it carries the same weight and emotion. Overall, the song leaves you feeling inspired and uplifted, where the power of Baze and Jaffe’s vocal pairing is worthy of “Track of the Year” recognition; yes, it’s seriously that good.
From there Baze jumps into the energetic and stimulating “Keep Rockin.” The track concludes the best trio of the album planted directly in the middle (Escape – Where I Am – Keep Rocking). This track shows more of the Kanye West in Baze as he delivers a mirrored resemblance in tone. Even the rasp chimes in from time to time (and comes into play in other tracks as well), making it vividly clear where some of his roots stem from.
Toward the end, you start to get the feeling that he just will not miss. With “Wings,” “No Good” and “Headed Home,” Baze closes the album with three distinct and entirely different tracks. “Wings” is a dark and haunting song that has a positive meaning as he claims evocatively “Spread Your Wings and Fly.” In “No Good” he takes the completely opposite focus – an animated rhythm combined with lyrics focusing on a less desirable subject matter. In the conclusion, Baze comes full circle, back to Brooklyn. Closer “Headed Home” is an inspired track taking listeners back with kindness in mind and fond memories to bring along for the ride. It is a predictable ending, but it honestly could not have been done any better.
The old-school feel of the album is to be noted. Throughout, it almost seems like a journey through the hip hop world. There is a focus on the classic beats used and when paired with Baze’s definitive style of rhyming, the blend is like butter. Moving from one track to the next, the flow is flawless. Usually that can be the downfall of a perfect collection of tracks on a hip hop record. For whatever reason, there only seems to be about one a year that can pull off the near-impossible feat. In my honest opinion, Hi-Heels & Low-Lifes would be 2012’s version. Deservedly so, it will likely compete for “Album of the Year” recognition. Not bad for the first go of things, eh Josh?
While I could go into immense detail about each track individually, the album can be summed up as a complete work of art; brilliance in the form of 18 songs (no skits or intros, very rare). Oh, and did I mention that he got Marisa Miller for the album cover? Connections.
For those who like: Kanye West’s College Dropout – B.O.B.’s The Adventures of Bobby Ray – Kid CuDi’s Man on the Moon: The End of Day