Teekay is the rap force behind Calgary, Alberta, CA's seminal rap group Dragon Fli Empire. If you're not familiar with DFE I recommend checking out either of their previous reviews on the site. Seriously. It will save me the trouble of repeating what other writers have already had to say, and will also give you the diversity of opinion on the crew ranging from "pretty damn fresh" to "run of the mill and nothing special." As for me I lean more toward the former than the latter, though it's not a fully codified position - it could swing the other way at any time.
For that reason I decided to check out Teekay's free "Sunrise Soiree EP" and see what he could do as a soloist outside of the group construct. Part of the reason it's hard to form a consensus about DFE is Teekay's style, which is already mellow to begin with, and finds itself even more laid back on this release. Press for the album describes the tracks found within as being culled from an unreleased Japanese album, noting that they are bound to create "deep and introspective moods (as) tracks that would be ideal to play during the solitary hours of night... music to dream to." That's as close to perfect as you could get in describing a song like "Spin the Record," where a jazzy musical backdrop sets Teekay up for a flow that sounds so effortless that it's undoubtedly the opposite. He worked hard to be this chill - it's a throwback to that Digable Planets cool way of being:
"I'm wearin a grin, it's my first in a while
I can see the sun shinin so I'm startin to smile
Streets bustle with activity, let's go check the festival
It ain't about bein couch potatoes or vegetables
Livin so nice you'd think my last name was Huxtable
The heat up on these streets is makin me feel combustible
Chillin with my girl and she's lookin so nice
And she's holdin me tight, yeah this is really the life
Fireworks explode, and we feelin the moment
We in the right place, at the right time"
Even as Teekay exhorts you to "Spin the Record" in the chorus, it's a gentle sort of urging, like a child's mother giving him a loving push out the door to go downstairs and eat breakfast before school. Could he actually be too mellow? It's possible, but it doesn't cause him to perform poorly at scribing lyrics - the construction of the rhymes on the song gets a more than passing grade. The same is true for "Two Letters," which may be the closest to up-tempo and energetic as this EP gets. More of it is like "Vibing," a song which sounds like the background music at a black tie affair, other than the turntablist scratching during the hook. Teekay compares his vibe to "Tribe, The Pharcyde and De La" and that's not bragging - musically that's exactly what he was going for.
This EP is ultimately split into two halves, with the same five songs on part two being remixes of the five moods Teekay set on part one - a "DJ Cosm" remix of "Vibing," a "Nock Nock" remix of "Sunshine Mindstate" and so on. The extra tracks neither add to nor subtract from Teekay's overall worthiness on the release - they're just there. As such we can focus strictly on the lyrical and musical contributions of the first half, to which I can say I understand to some degree where DFE's detractors are coming from. Teekay's almost too cool for school, the kind of guy who seems like he should be at a beat poetry reading, snapping his fingers while sipping from a small (and expensive) cup of coffee. Then again there are so many hard rocks in hip-hop these days, so many braggarts about their status and wealth, that it just may be that Teekay's carefully cultivated style is a backlash against mainstream trends in music. On this EP at least I think Teekay hits the right note over the right notes, and if you'll forgive the pun, it's a rebirth of cool.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7.5 of 10
Originally posted: May 17th, 2011