Ric Scales x 18 Sense | Leave it all Behind - FreEP Review
With the first few notes, 18 Sense’ ethereal production draws you “Way Out Here” as Ric Scales’ vocals lull listeners along the same path, pulling them into the world created by Leave it all Behind. The FreEP displays, in equal measure, the versatility of CAliens’ 18 Sense as a producer, and the same of the FRESHstate’s Ric Scales as an emcee, a storyteller, and social commentator. Scales’ register sits in that voice-you-could-listen-to-all-day range, akin to that of Common or Mos Def – you just don’t get tired of listening to him. While his tone keeps him listenable for multiple spins in a row, it is Ric Scales’ cadences, intricate rhyme schemes, delivery, style and unique angle on common themes that is sure to keep you coming back for more.
The EP begins by bringing listeners to that place where they can Leave it all Behind, and the vibe remains chill for “one2FREE” which is a playful stream of consciousness track, like much of MF Doom’s music, where the focus seems to be on the feel of the song, more so than the plot. While “The Hold Out” carries on the mellow vibe, it introduces some of Scales’ storytelling, turns melancholy, and dives into some of the many frustrations encountered in relationships, especially how each sex approaches, well, sex.
With “Pass the Times”, Scales makes a decisive shift, letting listeners into his thought life, where he begins to share a touch of social commentary with lines like:
“we’re morbidly fascinated // watching Final Destination // in 3D // talkin’ bout what if that was me // while sucka emcees speak of killin’ casually // they make more cake than cats that rap about peace // got ‘em switchin’ up their steez // to make a little cheese // ‘cause life ain’t as lucrative as it used to be…”
Ric Scales also shows the vast chasm that separates us as individuals, and then he attempts to bridge the gap with the final line of the chorus:
“Some people focus on death, and others on survival //
some build with their friends, and some destroy with their rivals //
some see life as coincidence, and others as a trial //
but one day we all wake up and wonderin’ where the time goes…”
The album takes a notable turn sonically with the chopped up 80’s sample on “Keep Em Clean”. During the intro to the song, Scales pulls no punches as he shares his disdain for artists who rap over their vocals at live shows, and in the outro, for those who have dope album art, but sub par music – it’s a great braggadocio record in between those two shots at those he calls “lame”.
The fun and playful “Neighbors” feat. GordiBlocc, shows the funnier side of Scales as he applies that question to different contexts, while he plays with his inflection on the refrain – "fu** is you doin'?". This track has a very Common “The Questions” feat. Mos Def vibe to it. Sometimes we all need a good friend to ask us this question, why not have it be Ric Scales?
My personal favorite is “Peace n Me”, featuring Skinny Veny whose heartfelt hook will have you believing that these two emcees are sincerely not concerned with “your” opinion, whoever that “you” might be. Beginning with this song, the end of the EP ("Peace n Me", "Take you Up", and "Leave it all Behind" feat. DreTrav) has the strongest gravitational pull, which is probably by design as I imagine that 18 Sense and Ric Scales are simply whetting our appetites, only to drop a full-length LP in the not so distant future. Whether my speculation is accurate or not, it is well worth Leav[ing] it all Behind for twenty eight minutes to orbit 18 Sense and Ric Scales’ world.
Listen. Enjoy. Support (quality) local art.
Peace, Love and Hip Hop,
– Nate @ SDLovesHipHop