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Album Review: Alex Faith – ATLast

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Disclaimer: All views presented in this Album Review are those of the album reviewer and not of DJ Wade-O.

It’s funny how fast things change in hip-hop. Just a year ago Alex Faith was a newcomer on a brand new label (Collision Records), fresh off the release of his first free project (Honest 2 God). Only two years ago Alex Faith was completely off of everyone’s CHH radar. Now Alex Faith is apart of CHH’s hottest label and is releasing what some are considering 2013’s most anticipated album. As fast as things changed for CHH fans, this past year and a half had to be a whirlwind for Alex Faith. He has had one of the biggest and most successful years in recent history.

Since Alex’s return to CHH, he has released a critically acclaimed free project. He was a part of the critically acclaimed group album W.L.A.K. (We Live As Kings). Not to mention numerous incredible features and being apart of the fastest growing label in CHH. So a lot has changed, but not just for Alex’s career. Things have changed for everything around Alex Faith. With his widespread success and growing popularity, comes a whole lot of anticipation and expectation. This changes the scope for the release of Alex’s debut album ATLast.

Believe the Hype?

Sometimes being a member of a great team is harder than achieving individual success. We have seen this play out time and time again in music and sports. A team or one guy of the team, has huge success and the pressure is too much for the rest of the team to keep up. I think it’s safe to say at this point that Collision Records has achieved huge success in CHH. It seems as if the only thing the label puts out are classic records. This is a hard thing for anyone to follow, not to mention a guy dropping his debut album. This is what Alex Faith is facing with his project ATLast.

The expectation is for Alex to drop a classic, because that is what CHH is used to from his label. This expectation would cripple most artists, but Alex seemingly handles it in stride. He never once stepped outside of himself on this record, nor did he seem like he was pressing and trying to force greatness. He took the proper creative risks and still does what he does best. ATLast far exceeds most expectations placed on it. This record is great music from beginning to end. It had some great Collision elements and a lot of the things that make Alex Faith special. This is a great album that definitely lives up to the hype.

Not Your Typical Southern Album

Southern hip-hop has always had to deal with stereotypes. I’ve heard that southern records aren’t as conceptually deep, or as lyrically deep. They rely too much on production and lack overall versatility. These stereotypes do contain some truth in them; but they don’t apply to every southern artist. Southern artists have been fighting this for as long as I can remember, and even with a heavy southern presence in CHH, this is a battle they have been fighting as well.

Alex Faith is about as southern as an artist can get. From his slang, to his slower delivery, to his style and his overall demeanor (not to mention he shouts out Atlanta every chance he gets). He’s no stranger to dealing with stereotypes, but you could never tell by listening to ATLast. This record is a very southern record in sound, but it was also beautifully mixed with the classic Collision sound. This was a sound that I wasn’t sure could be perfected. Collision is known for their experiential and layered production, and the South is known for it’s heavy bass driven smooth production. That’s a hard mix to bring together, but with the combination of Wit, Swoope and Alex Faith, they did it wonderfully. The sound is great and doesn’t fit into the typical “southern” mold, without abandoning it completely.

Another misconception about southern hip-hop is that it lacks lyrical depth. We’ve all heard examples of this, but as a blanket statement, I’d say this is rather unfair. Alex definitely breaks this stereotype as well. His lyrical depth on ATLast is as strong as it has ever been, and as strong as what we’ve come to expect from the Collision camp. Not only was it great from a technical side, it was also brutally honest and open. This is a trait that fans of Alex have expected, but can you really prepare for Alex Faith’s brand of honesty? He’s in a small group of CHH artists that have an uncomfortable honest streak in their music, and that is not a bad thing. Listeners can relate with Faith’s music unlike most other artists because it’s so real. It brings a very personal quality to the record and is one of the many things that set this record apart from others.

Conclusion

This project could be summed up in one word … excellent. This is true excellence presented through beautiful artistry and music. It has all the elements of a great record. The spiritual message is stellar. It’s an insightful, inspirational and powerful record. It’s also heavy on the features but not too heavy. Each feature was done wisely and with intention. Every person on ATLast had a purpose (which is another Collision staple). The production was solid and the lyricism was outstanding. In every way possible this album is excellent. ATLast is the first full-length record from one of the younger emcees in CHH. If he continues on this path, it won’t be long until he’s sitting at the top of CHH.

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Aubrey McKay has a strong passion and love for CHH, and he uses that to write album reviews for Wadeoradio.com. He is a graduate of Southeastern University in Lakeland Florida. He currently resides in Lakeland and teaches middle school. Twitter: @ajmckay24

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