Sunday, August 16, 2009

New New-ish: Wafeek

I've decided to revive my New New series on another new-ish artist. I mean, he's been around a minute, so I'll just claim that he's new to me to cover my bases. And his name is Wafeek. Try and forget that name.

In actuality, his first mixtape was released in 2006, but he didn't get much shine off of it. I guess neither the mainstream nor the blogosphere had much of a lane for an indie artist from St. Louis. Nelly has been the only notable hip hop influence from Missouri and even he wore out his welcome in recent years. But I think Wafeek can keep the fans he gains as long as he stays away from the roids and body oil for album cover photo shoots. Has there ever been a more masculinely insecure attempt at a cover besides Brass Knuckles?

Wafeek -
The Aristocrats Mixtape
Feekee & The Flux Capacitor

After a few years in between, Wafeek came back with a new pair of mixtapes. Now I must have just been sleeping on the posts about him, because his first return venture was The Aristocrats Mixtape which was exclusively pushed and promoted by The Smoking Section, which is my personal second favorite rap blog after 2dopeboyz. And I didn't even cop that free download until I accidentally stumbled upon his newest project earlier this year which featured some awesome Kanye 808s remakes. And I know darn near every tape this year had some Kanye ode, but this one seriously stands out above the rest right up there with Charles Hamilton's super long-titled one. Wafeek goes in with no sense of abandonment, aided by the undeniable forces of autotune. Yet he doesn't use it as a crutch like every single Yung Burg or Weezy song dropped within the last year. He uses it as a selective weapon. He uses it creatively. He uses it in context. He uses it when it sounds good. That's why autotune probably won't just kinda die off after The Blueprint 3 drops. It'll fall off the hooks of the mainstream singles, but it has a legitimate lane where it can sound good, and Wafeek explores that lane and thrives in it when he chooses to use the hated plug-in.

But what really sticks out to me about Wafeek's music is that he effortlessly breaks the mold on the subject matter he touches. I listen to a ton of CDs and mixtapes that I enjoy sonically, yet the rappers don't lyrically stand out in talking about anything that everyone else hasn't covered. Wafeek takes his concepts there and keeps your attention. Whether it's a crazy balance of self-deprecation mixed in the same bag as unconscious braggadocio or a less than comfortable dissection of racial relations or the heart-wrenching detailing of a girl discovering something on a computer, Wafeek isn't scared to go there. To me, it's the anti-SHow TuFli thing that I've been talking about. While I enjoy TuFli's mixtapes, I don't feel him pushing any real boundaries or separating himself from any strong-headed emcee. Wafeek's tapes are enjoyable and then even further up their replay value by being crazy original stylistically and conceptually from song to song. Some individual standouts to me in that way are "Instant Gratification" off the former tape and "Day in the Life" off the latter tape.

So I'm impressed. I really hate when I discover people super late. I wanna be there from the opening bar of someone's career, but that's not often possible. So I just gotta pick up on Wafeek from right now and go with him for the rest of his future music catalogue. Hopefully you will, too.

... but do take my word for it.

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