Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Big Test "Test Drive" Album Review

The first thing that stood out to me was the production throughout the album. Each song is a strong display of instruments and equally strong arrangment. Most albums follow a blueprint of previously successful sounds and production, but "Test Drive" is full of unique styles and I love that about this album. The vocal samples in "Nickel City Anthem" are dope as hell - props to CEO Charles on the production. I think "Crime of Passion" might have been my favorite, but the production seemed muffled. I would love to hear this record re-engineered to bring out those instruments and let 'em stand out. If that's a sample riding out at the end - I want to know where it came from because it is fly! The vocal guest on "Victory" really stood out as well. There are gems like that throughout the album though. "Ready To Choose" jumps out right away with the vocals from guest feature Dominoe Ch'Yea. Of all the tracks on the album I think "Platinum Room" is my favorite. The production is real smooth, the chorus is dope, and I liked Big Test's cadence. The layered vocals we're blended perfectly and helped to make the song stand out. "Platinum Room" will be going in my mixes.

"Hold Up" suffered due to the engineering again with the beat seriously muffled under the other instruments and the hooks over-saturated with effects. Bring the beat up and let that snare snap, tweek the hooks and mix this record down again - it's easily a top pick. Don't change anything about the production or the delivery on the hooks and verses...don't change anything except for the engineering and this is one of the best records on the album. "Crazy Deranged" started out real dope, but then twisted into a warp speed hook that threw me off before the track settled back into the groove that kicked it off. Once I figured out the hook though...I was hooked and would easily say this is top pick. I really dug Big Test's delivery in "Crazy Deranged". "Conceited Girls" has a dope minimalist percussion vibe, but again suffers a poor mixdown.

My overall take on "Test Drive" is the production is dope. Stand out dope. Unique Styles dope. You can listen to each song and hear guitars, organs, horns, synths, piano, strings...a full range of instruments. One more note on the production is how each song is completely different but still cohesive with the overall flavor of the album. The song arrangements are impressive and should be noted. I love to hear tracks that are more than a simple loop running non-stop for 16 bar verses and repetitive hooks. Big Test did an excellent job of selecting features that contribute to each song, rather than just burying his hard work under the weight of everyone else trying to get their shine on. Lyrically Big Test is solid, but I think he would definitely benefit from adding adlibs behind his bars. Not to take away from his lyrics or his delivery/cadence, but to add more depth and personality to his songs. I hear a lot of albums from artists that seem rushed or just lazily thrown together, but "Test Drive" is polished and well constructed. It's possible the engineering knocks are simply due to compression with the conversion to MP3 and down to the zip file I downloaded. Even if it's a matter of engineering this is an issue that can be fixed with a new mix down.

You can get the full album for free on Big Test's website bigtestmusic.com and be sure to get your twitter game and follow Big Test @BIGTESTMUSIC. For bookings contact bigtest142@gmail.com.

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