The up and coming group Fringe Character don’t call themselves a “hip-hop band.” Rather, they consider themselves a “crew.” This may seem like a trivial detail, but it means much more. With a brand new independent album out called “MINT,” this group’s talent truly comes alive on “Alpine Eyes.”
“Alpine Eyes” starts out with a verse from rapper Dudu Stinks that is delivered well but that more serves as a lyrical introduction. Stinks compares LSD (the topic of the song) to woman, a general concept that has been done before several times by artists describing their relationships with various drugs (think Wiz Khalifa, Flatbush Zombies, or A$AP Mob’s “Yamborghini High” and, oh yeah, pretty much any other rapper discussing their drug of choice), but Stinks makes up for this bland approach by delivering a smooth, consistent flow and rhymes that make the comparison fun and clever rather than overly-serious.
Meanwhile, a well put together instrumentation of subtly popping bass, tasteful claps (yes, there have been plenty of “distasteful” claps in hip- hop history. Trust me, they’re ugly to listen to) and wonderfully laid out horns, courtesy of Fringe Character (the producer, yes, the “crew” is named after him) does an excellent job of paving the way for the emcees to travel through each bar comfortably and efficiently. Additionally, GregB of 2morrow’s Victory delivers a relaxed, clean hook that pulls the verses together casually but effectively.
“Alpine Eyes” really starts to achieve its full potential, however, during the second and third verses. Rapper Daewong steps in to deliver the second verse with a rhyme scheme and flow that take things to the next level as he delves further into the LSD experience:
Misfits shapeshift in the new spring
Young Edmund Honda, visionary contra
Analog lifestyle eight bit mantra
Third eye dilated mind frame meditate
Elevated grey matter, soul opera
Emcee Pop Cult brings the heat as well on the third verse, continuing the same rhyme intricacies but with a more urgent flow that enhances the nature of the experience the rappers are describing.
Oh yeah, about that little “crew” vs. “hip-hop band” detail (you thought I was just looking for a good intro sentence, didn’t you). The fact that Fringe Character stays away from the “band” label tells us something that is verified in their music: These guys may be making great instrumentation, but they’re also really rapping. That’s not to say that some “hip-hop bands” aren’t, but to point out that this group is just as focused on lyrics as they are on beats.
There are numerous songs about rapper’s encounters with drugs but Fringe Character‘s “Alpine Eyes” gets a pass!
There are numerous songs about rapper’s encounters with drugs (they practically flood the internet these days) and they are more often than not extremely underwhelming. It is rare cases like that of “Alpine Eyes,” however, that pull it off and get a pass. So next time you have the urge to listen to rappers discuss being under the influence, skip the dusty weed rap and turn on “Alpine Eyes.”[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/260996032″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
Follow Fringe Character on Facebook and Soundcloud and get “Mint” on Bandcamp.