How many great underground artists are out there that nobody knows exist? Countless MCs get shuffled under the table each year while their flasher counterparts enjoy lavish attention and prestige. Invisible is one of these warriors. Punning his own unacknowledged fame with his stage name, Invisible has no illusions about his career thus far. Comfortable with the obscure odds of making it big, Invisible has embraced his place as an artist and shunned the whetting desire to be a TRL contestant.
First and foremost, the production on this album is stellar. BT, owner and producer for Table Turns Records, slays the entire album almost track by track. Surprisingly, equally excellent production comes from Mondee and Invisible himself for five of the songs. All three come together cohesively to elevate this album to another level of professionalism and pedigree.
The solemn, elegant opener, “G’s Intro Rhyme,” sets the tone: No Bullshit Allowed. On “An Underground MC,” Invisible speaks in third-person on his discouraging position as a neophyte MC. His mood is brought to life by a lonely whistling wind and a frustrated electric guitar. “Petro” exudes an elegance that commands reverence. The first of three musical breaks comes with “Bitch Gimmie My Money,” each imitating different musical eras. By the title you’re probably imagining cold handed pimps in plaid pants and plume hats, and you’d be right. BT backhands us into the late, great, seventies soul era with some superfly Shaft badassness.
“Do For Self” extends Invisible’s impressive impression. While, “Concrete Jungle” irrupts like a volcano into African drums and a thumping bassline. Blown back, you’ll be wondering how Invisible has managed to remain invisible with fiery tracks like this. Hitting the halfway mark, another musical bridge arrives at “Classic,” evoking a humbling reverence to the golden era in production
By this point in the album, it is becoming clearer and clearer that it’s not only the musical skits that are emulating their titles. Each song personifies its theme in musical composition, some being easily noticeable while others are subtlety intriguing. Its not hard to notice the disco demeanor of “Let the Beat Funk,” or the digitized integration in “Virtual Reality;” but you might not notice how “Concrete Jungle” mixes the organic fury of a real live jungle with the heavy edge of urban warfare. Even the anxious pace of “Look Out” races along like a police chase unbeknownst of what waits around the next bend.
The album continues in this patented fashion, giving the music purpose and weight. “We Live This” sings to endearing struggle. “Nightshift” buckles down to the swarthy mood of late night writing. Finally, “Sunshine” opens the sky to end optimistically but gets a little overcast in the shadow of Invisible’s ever-realistic downpour. Invisible rhymes with slow, steady, street wisdom, sort of like GZA without the complex metaphors. He is so sure of his words he seems unquestionably in control at all times. It is exactly this calm confidence that makes him such a congenial partner for the elegant arrogance of BT’s beats. Both hold a stolid acuteness to their craft and are tenacious together.
Regrettably though, Invisible doesn’t push himself stylistically. You end up feeling somewhat disappointed by his low brow proverbial verses, because you know a man of his character could do better. Rhythmically, he builds momentum like a coal train until right when you think he’s going to kill it, he ends with an off rhyme. If Invisible would shed this start-n-stop style that holds him like a floodgate, he would flow like the Nagano. Fortunately, Invisible’s lyrical falter is circumscribed by his strong musical chemistry and is almost forgivable.
Unseen and unheard, Invisible’s self-titled debut is a sleeper. A snake slithering through the undergrowth so sharp it cuts the grass in a sinuous path and so venomous it’s fangs can infect instantly, rocking the victim into incessant head nodding. This is an album that 10 years ago would have granted prodigious street credit, respect, and probably a healthy record deal, but today can only win the hearts of a true few rap zealots. It’s a shame that Invisible remains translucent as glass in the eyes of the industry, but we can only hope that his fervent determination will breed more premium releases in the time to come. As for now, go cop “Invisible,” before he fades away on his name.