Recently Gift of Gab (of Blackalicious) released a song title “Wack But Good People.” On the track, the Oakland emcee raps about one of the most awkward situations in hip hop: how do you tell your friend to hang up the mic? As a writer, it’s never fun to critique someone who is passionate about what they do, but it’s a part of the job.
While I don’t know rapper GT personally, on his new album “Windows to My Soul” it is fairly clear that this is the type of dude Gift of Gab was talking about. GT bears all on this record, and he often raps about being a proud religious father and husband. But he just simply is not a good rapper. Lyrically he is competent enough, and it seems like his heart is in the right place when making songs about his personal life. But as far as skill and techniques go, GT is severely lacking any sense of microphone presence; it almost sounds like he’s recording his verses in the basement while sitting down at his computer desk trying not to project his voice too loud. His flow is monotonous and unimaginative except on “Stampede,” where he fails miserably at a double time flow.
GT’s rapping is fairly bad, but unfortunately it still manages to be “Windows to My Soul’s” saving grace. The production on this record is unforgivably bad. Nydy NewSense did all ten of the album’s soulless, anemic beats, and they all sound extremely amateurish. What makes the production so incredibly frustrating is the arrangements and drum programming aren’t lazy or unimaginative; some of them have potential to be decent beats. But all of the “instruments” used on this album are the unmistakable pre-installed generator plugins from an early version of Fruity Loops. “The Greatest Part of Me” is a beat that should’ve never left Soundclick, with several layers of corny synths and fake sounding strings.”I’m in Touch” has some pretty dope drum programming, but the super thin drum sounds ruin any potential the beat might have. GT also has shortcomings as an overall songwriter. Most of the songs on “Windows” fall short due to the bad choruses. “Harmonize” and “Greatest Part” have awful autotuned hooks, that would even anger makers of T-Pain’s iPhone app.
GT has a good head on his shoulders even though he has an awful ear for production (or maybe he just doesn’t have the heart to tell Nydy NewSense his beats are wack). On “The Greatest Part of Me” he talks about fatherhood, and on “Just Like Me” and Destiny” he raps about his rich spirituality and overcoming struggles. The best track on “Windows” is the finale (which at 8 minutes, is way too long). The track entitled, “Through it All” is more or less a chronicle of all the hardships the rapper has faced throughout his lifetime. But the most moving part of the song comes during the last two minutes, when he tells the emotional story about getting into a car crash while bumping Nas and Damian Marley. It would be a lot easier to write a negative review about a rapper who is constantly talking about how much money he blows on strippers and how much swagger he has, but GT is an extremely genuine guy, even if he isn’t that strong of a rapper.