One of the really sad things to witness in life is the waste of human potential. What is even sadder to witness is watching someone with the potential for greatness demonstrate that capacity, and then, lose their grip while on their journey to the top of the ladder. Of course, things are always a bit more complicated than what they may appear. An individual may have every intention of achieving to the ends of their limitations, however, it takes much more than talent to survive, and thrive, at the top of the slippery game of life.
It is not enough to have the ability to rise above the average; it also requires a healthy and balanced mental and physical state of being to keep it up – at least to some extent. The list runs a million miles long of individuals who allowed a glimpse of their brilliance, yet managed to smother their own illumination with a litany of unresolved issues. Lauryn Hill was never able to recover from whatever pain prevented her from following up “Miseducation”. D’Angelo seems to be a shell of the individual who created the albums “Brown Sugar” – and the ultra-ambitious “Voodoo”. Of course, the poster child for arrested potential is the legendary songwriter/composer, Brian Wilson.
For those unfamiliar with the story of Brian Wilson, suffice it to say that it is entirely too deep to explore in this review. You would be better served checking out his episode of “Behind The Music” or scanning his Wikipedia entry. Trust me; it is worth it. However, if you would like to listen to an artist describe a series of personal battles that mirror the struggles of the Beach Boys alumni; you can listen to this album instead. D-Sisive, despite having a lengthy hip-hop career, has never released an official album – until this moment. According to what I have read about him, he was well on his way to becoming a major hip-hop star in Canada – and, quite possibly, everywhere else – some years ago. Somewhere along the way, he managed to derail his own burgeoning career. This album attempts to explain what happened to D-Sisive during his “missing” years.
What comes out is a painfully dark, yet quite enjoyable and cohesive, album that describes someone seemingly suffering from drug addiction, clinical depression, and grief. His psychological problems, the death of his parents and his interactions with them while they were alive, provides the raw material for this album. D-Sisive has a gift for delivering deceptively rich and complex content with simple lyricism. Once you catch the premise of a track, you will actually find yourself pretty engrossed in the story he has to tell – even more so because you always understand exactly what he is talking about. The intro, aptly called “Intro”, is a creepy tune, reminiscent of something from a psychological thriller that sounds as if it was being played on a toy piano. D-Sisive sets the tone for the album by singing a song that summarizes his fears that perhaps he allowed his door of opportunity to close – and that may have been the only real shot he had.
“Intro” segues into the song “Brian Wilson”. If you pay close attention to the lyrics – and you are already familiar with the story of Brian Wilson – you will notice that D-Sisive brilliantly manages to spit his biography in a manner that draws comparisons to Brian Wilson’s without actually referencing the songwriter. It is as if he is telling his story AND Brian Wilson’s in first person narrative, but without actually stating that this is what he is doing. The dark music is the first of several dark, yet BANGING, sound beds that fit the tormented content to the “T” without being overbearing.
The rich wordplay continues with “Up”, a song that manages to incorporate multiple contextual usages for the song title to narrate his decision to quit drugs, his mother’s final days of suffering with cancer, and his father’s alcoholism stemming from his grief with his wife’s passing. “Laundry Room” may just be one of the best written descriptions of life with clinical depression that I have ever heard. The choice to incorporate a voice sample that states, “The living is done, and the dying has begun”, is another master stroke making this album a delight despite its’ depressing undertone.
Of course, in every life, a little light must shine. D-Sisive demonstrates that he has a sense of humor with the hilarious “ThisIsWhatItSoundsLikeWhenWhiteboysListenToHipHop”. A song that describes D-Sisive’s own attempts, to embody the “toughest man alive” theme that permeates the music he loves – all to hilarious effect. I’m transcribing the first verse, but the second verse is the real jewel. I did not think that it would be fair to give away the punchline that makes it so vital.
“My daddy said, “Pull your pants up”
Did Treach (Naughty By Nature) have to pull his pants up?
If Treach wore his Paco’s half-ass
Fuck it; my family could kiss my black ass
That’s when my daddy’s hand raised
And that’s when my pants met my waist
Daddy whispered, “I thought so
and don’t you forget who bought those”
One day, I’ll buy my own pants
And won’t be intimidated by those hands
One day, I’ll be my own man
You ain’t so tough, old man
You just got a couple pounds on me, plus
a few more laps around the sun, but
Age ain’t nothing but a number
Consider yourself lucky I’m your son”
The album’s sound quality is great, the mixes are of professional quality, and the drums stay knocking throughout the entire album. The only complaint that I can really see someone having with this album is that it is only eight tracks long. However, the short length actually prevents the dark material from becoming overbearing and makes for a nice, tight package. Do not let the short tracklist prevent you from purchasing this album; it didn’t stop you from scooping up “Illmatic.”
Nervous Picks: “Brian Wilson”, “ThisIsWhatItSoundsLikeWhenWhiteboysListenToHipHop”, “Up”