The beauty of technology is that as it advances it becomes cheaper to produce and much more accessible. The wonderful thing about this is that guys like Joe Buddens and K-Rino can keep putting out mixtapes/albums with no major label support through relatively cheap producers and production methods. The horrible thing is that for every quality independent album we get at least 100 albums that aren't worth the time or material they're printed on. "Unspoken: The Premix" is such an album and to make the obvious pun – DJ Tao would have been better off taking the title to heart and kept his mouth shut. As a producer Tao is decent at crafting bass heavy beats reminiscent of boom-bap golden era rap, but as a rapper he is entirely inept at putting together anything worth hearing.
It's tough to review a project like "Unspoken." You don't want to completely shit on a man's work for the entire review, but the reality is that there isn't anything good to say about DJ Tao. Take Tao's opening verse on "Hungry:"
"They say that men do great things to compensate for their small penises
In that case Nicholas is practically dick-a-less
In fact, he's hung like a clitoris
It's my very blood that I smear on this papyrus hands
Trembling, passionate, because I am fucking hungry
Hungry like Saddam masturbating to footage of an A-Bomb
Hungry like that three legged stray around the way
that be knocking over your garbage can on trash day
Hungry like the reason I spit so quick
is so that each word has a chance to escape my lip
before I change my mind and decide to take a bite out of it
I say fuck applause, when I step off stage
I wanna hear the scratches of pens of poets trying to rise
to the level of the bar I just razed..."
Tao goes on for a couple more bars on the verse making very little sense. To his credit, this stream of consciousness rambling is probably Tao at his worst, but at his best Tao is a generic rapper with no personality. It's hard to figure out what the hell Tao is going for half the time. On "6 Letter Word" he decides to tell the story of a Black man lynched, beaten, and hung in Alabama because he fell in love with a white woman. Sure, those were horrible times in our history we should not forget or repeat, but something about a white man using a traditionally Black music form to pretend to be a hung Black man just doesn't sit right with me. Tao probably had the best of thoughts in trying to end discrimination and racism, but there are much better ways to go about it. On the beats Tao isn't as bad, pairing simple drum loops, halfway decent bass lines, and random jazzy samples. Sometimes he comes up with decent beats, but a lot of the times the simple drums are too simple. At least with the music Tao has more potential.
DJ Tao has no future as a rapper, plain and simple. He has no voice or flow suitable for rapping and his topic matter, while positive, is confusing and boring. As a producer, Tao could one day drop something noteworthy, but he has a lot of work before he can get there. The difference though, is that as a producer Tao at least has some hope. It is a harsh thing to say, but it is the truth. With the wonders of technology, Tao is able to press up copies of his CD, advertise through SoundClick and MySpace and get coverage at our site. Thankfully, the same wonders allow us to warn consumers that "Unspoken: The Premix" isn't worth your hard earned cash.
Music Vibes: 4 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 2 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 3 of 10
Originally posted: May 29, 2007