The lovechild of MF Grimm and Fiona Apple? That’s what this Minnesota emcee claims his sound is the amalgamation of. Growing up in Bloomington, Minnesota, T.Q.D., also know as The Quiet Dude, has written and emceed since 1998 and has continued to make every effort in his lyricism. While releasing solo projects such as his debut “Not Yet,” he is also occupied in multiple duos consisting of Green Sketch with Phingaz, BloomWood with Audyssey, and Grey Area with Analyrical.

T.Q.D. attempts to confirm the five years prior to the release of “Not Yet” under the guidance of Doomtree’s Cecil Otter and P.O.S. with accompanying production from Ecid, Phingaz, Octave High, and DJ Pseudonym.

Engulfed in introspection, “Not Yet” is an album comprising of self-questioning and contemplation of T.Q.D. himself, as an emcee who consequently seems ill at ease. Many tracks follow the same theme of negative reflection and dismal continuity as T.Q.D. professes about a love once lost in “Sara Goldfarb” or disappearing off the face of the earth devoid of anyone knowing in “Without a Sound.” Over a light, jazzy beat, he feels guilt for not showing up to a childhood friend’s funeral due to resentment and bitterness in “George.” Over a low, funk beat, “Freshman Mistakes” brings to light the idea of faults and blunders while growing up as a young adult. “Retrospection” delivers the message of perception after the fact, in this case referring to the difficulty in searching and finding his own creativeness and artistic craft as he contemplates:

“I must control myself
Is this helping or hurting my mental health 
Placing lines on the page
Pure ecstasy 
Letting loose each day ’cause I need to remedy
Thinking of lines all the through the day
Talking to myself while people look the other way”

Fortunately, the beats, for the most part, compensate for the lack of being positive. Although there was some monotony throughout the tracks characteristic of a synonymous jazzy flair, some tracks are successful in being rather unordinary. Minnesota’s Doomtree offers their production skills for a bulk of the album, including that of Cecil Otter and P.O.S. While almost half of the tracks on “Not Yet” feature Cecil Otter’s production, “Shore to Shore” also highlights his emceeing abilities as he spits a verse or two. With an appealing sped up drum beat and jazzy, downtempo approach, the track digresses from the sameness that exists throughout the album. “Around” features a slow guitar introduction followed by a simple bass line as the track remains uncomplicated with a simple rhythm as T.Q.D says:

“Around the globe
Around the stars
Vivid pictures of who we are
Of what we chase
And hope to recreate
Debating what we hate”

Also, reminiscent of sounds from a horror flick of some kind, an ominous theme is featured in “Cedar States” which features P.O.S. and DJ Pseudonym. With an echoing voice in the background and heavily synthesized cuts, the techniques remain grimy and raw throughout the track.

Unfortunately, T.Q.D.’s lyricism is short of substance and cadence. At times, I felt as though I was listening to a spoken word artist as opposed to an emcee rapping. With a monotonous voice and mind-numbing rhythm, it was difficult to stay focused on each track. The overall lack in clarity and delivery proposes a difficult situation for the audience as it remains a challenge to stay interested, while words are difficult to hear and discern. To my dismay, it took a good two to three listens per track to truly comprehend the meanings and underlying messages, although once the meaning was clear, the album began to come together.

With the help of great production from artists such as Doomtree/Rhymesayers and an increase in optimism accented within his lyricism, T.Q.D. has the potential to develop as an emcee. In spite of everything, emcees show their defenselessness as a sign of growth as does T.Q.D. as he keeps in mind that “after the storm comes the calm”…just “not yet.”

T.Q.D. :: Not Yet
5.5Overall Score