Intellect – Out of Left Field
Released: 26 October 2018
Daily Maneuvers: 3.5/5
Fonics ft Kay Flow: 3.25/5
Smoke and Mirrors ft Cap: 3.75/5
Then There Were Two: 4/5
Veteran’s Day: 3.75/5
Ink Out My Mouth: 2.5/5
Your Eyes: 3/5
2nd Chance: 2.75/5
Sledgehammer ft Taylor Bandit: 2/5
Neck Deep: 3.5/5
TOTAL: 3.1875 Good; but does little to establish the artist or maintain quality
Early on Out of Left Field, Intellect utilizes movie cameos mid-song to help aid storytelling. He does this on “Fonics“, where the hook’s delivery reminds me of how Cali-lyricist Planet Asia typically raps his choruses in the same tempo as his verses. Intellect implements this style of hook numerous times on Out of Left Field, including on track #5 “Then There Were Two”. It’s definitely an acquired taste for those more interested in unique flows and structured songwriting, but when done correctly it can help the song flow seamlessly.
On the track #3 “Smoke and Mirrors“, the cadence of the introductory bars is reminiscent of Kanye West on the chorus of “Overnight Celebrity“.
“Swing swords like OH MY LORD
Good god, you flow so HARD
No smoke and mirrors DAWG
Microphone Killers clique is here YALL” – Intellect on “Out of Left Field”
In fact, on “Smoke and Mirrors“, Intellect even quotes Kanye West‘s hook on “Cold“, spitting: “Can a young man make money anymore?/ Have a bad bitch without no flaws/ Come to see me without no draws?/ In a stretch Lex with about 10 doors”.
“2nd Chance” seems to play with Nas‘ dichotomous bars from “Queens Get the Money” where Nas infamously spits “Freedom or jail, clips inserted/ A baby’s being born the same time a man is murdered/ The beginning and end“, but lack of commitment to vocal delivery makes Intellect’s song play like a fictional story rather than a personal experience. Somewhere between penning the song and entering the booth to record, the emotion of the song is lost. In Hip-Hop, I feel like there are times where it’s OK to sacrifice rhyme schemes for emotional input – this definitely would’ve aided “2nd Chance” ability to connect with the listener on a personal level.
At times, Out of Left Field is deeply introspective; on the aptly-titled “Veteran’s Day“, Intellect speaks about struggles with PTSD and alcoholism. Other times, Out of Left Field is rappity-rap focused, that is, extremely concerned with syllabic rhyming – prioritizing rhyming over all other facets of Rap including flow and content, even on songs meant to touch the listener personally, such as “Veteran’s Day” and “Daily Maneuvers”. The fixation on syllables and rhyming is most present on “Ink Out My Mouth”, where Intellect spits an Eminem-level-of-cringey bar: “Treat you all like a urinal – I’m pissed off”. Somewhere around the third quarter of the album, listeners are lost in bland rhymes and boom-bap production (I actually enjoyed the production for most of this project, but not during this stretch).
Intellect is great at rhyming and prioritizes boom-bap over other production styles – which is perfectly fine. But rhyming well doesn’t automatically make one an intriguing rapper. Hearing Intellect try melodies on “Your Eyes” was refreshing, but probably would sound more polished if he tried it more often – his verse delivery doesn’t really vary despite the song content, even on the woman-dedicated song “Your Eyes“.
★★★: It’s hard to knock this project, because Intellect can spit. But same-y rhyme cadences and vocal delivery can make a project drag along rather than flow seamlessly. For artists like this, it’s best to strategically place features that can change the tempo and keep the listener intrigued, and less accustomed to the primary rapper’s flow.
★★★★★: Best in show; pinnacle release from an all-time great artist.
★★★★1/2: Stellar example of genre; peak potential.
★★★★: Excellent; recommended to all fans of artist or genre.
★★★1/2: Very good; a few bland songs or minor flaws throughout.
★★★: Good; fans of the artist will find value here.
★★1/2: Average; does little to establish the artist or maintain quality.
★★: Unexceptional; a few highlights but otherwise bland.
★1/2: Weak; unrecommended for anyone but major fans of the style and/or artist.
★: Seriously flawed; very poor work but relatively listenable.
1/2: Terrible; a true embarrassment and akin to audio masochism.