Perhaps a talent defender in the realm of hip-hop music is something that is long overdue. The market has grown oversaturated with wannabe thugs who think that they can rhyme effectively every time you put a mic in front of their shiny grill. Nas would be a good ‘talent defender' since he has been doing his thing for over a decade and a half while constantly representing the music with the fullest of integrity. However, it is Bilistic--a relative newcomer from Wichita, KS--that plans on laying down the law for the love of rap music, but does he have the skills to pull it off?
Bilistic has opened for numerous hip hop heavyweights throughout these early stages of his career as they tour through the Midwest, including: Bone Thugs, Cypress Hill, Naughty by Nature and Tech-9. The best comparison to him would be B-Real (of Cypress Hill) in terms of vocals and rhyme style.
"Talent Defender" opens up with a symphonic anthem in "You Want It" which has sing along hook. It proves that Bilistic understands, at very least, the bare bones elements that go together in making an acceptable hip-hop track in terms of structure and content. As a listener, you will pretty much know if you will like Bilistic from the beginning, as he has a very distinct voice and an unapologetically gangster rap character.
The thing about Midwestern hip-hop, aside from maybe Chicago, is that it does not really have a sound of it's own. Therefore, many rappers that hail from the heart of America, deliver unbalanced albums that lack cohesion. For instance, "Buck" and "Let It Drop" on this LP are both influenced by the South. This is not necessarily a bad thing on a track by track basis but when looking at the disc when taking everything in consideration, the pieces don't always fit.
There are some cool moments on "Talent Defender" though. "Get High Tonight" definitely brings you back to the late 90's era rap where a song about lighting up was a necessary standard. This particular track has a hypnotic chorus by featured guest Whisper, which is backed by a nice guitar sample. Further, the ‘get high' message has a double meaning as Bilistic also references just trying to find ways to make his life better. Sadly, when the two collaborate later on "Please Don't Push Me" it does not nearly have the same positive effect.
"Trouble Times" is a rare moment in which Bilistic shows vulnerability and gives us slices of introspection. Here he raps:
"I think back memories flashing through my head
And I remember something I said to my son
'Daddy will never leave'
And that gives me a reason to continue to breathe
I put the gun down
And remember how the gun sound
Echoes through the heart of everyone around
A loved one whose life has been taken
I can see now I was mistaken"
These are some of the most picturesque writings of Bilistic, as recorded on "Talent Defender."
To the contrary, songs like "Popping Bottles" are sad attempts to cater to the popular market as it utilizes a corny auto tune chorus. Even, to a lesser extent, "What's It Gonna Be" and "It's You" that go the direction of including R&B hooks try to bring a softer side of Bilistic that is not inviting, though admittedly the horns on the latter are pretty smooth. Finally, "Coming Home Late" tries to hone the sounds of Idlewild-inspired Outkast but it is not nearly as clever as it hopes.
It's funny that in a way Bilistic really represents those he hopes to dispel. He has a unique enough voice and maybe the groundwork for an attempt to launch himself into a career in the business. All in all, "Talent Defender" by Bilistic is an inconsistent disc. There are a few moments worth listening to, but Bilistic still has a long way to go to be the guardian at the gates for our celebrated genre of music.
Music Vibes: 5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 5 of 10
Originally posted: April 7, 2009