“Yo, this is for everyone whose life is easily partially or fully comprised of conflicts of contradictions. Including me, so aptly named.” The most obvious contradiction that Paradox faces is that he’s a white boy who performs hip hop for a living. I mean right now, the most relevant white rapper—Asher Roth—hasn’t even released his first album.

Looking more closely, though, Paradox’s sophomore solo album, “Called to Mind,” is plagued by a quite surprising contradiction; despite his greatest strength being his clever vocabulary and syntax, the only songs on the album that really stand out are those that have a festive energy to them. Paradox can bombard you with multiple-syllable rhymes all day (sometimes impressive, at other times forced), but by the time he raps, “Uncover friends who lend ears as listeners / paint a clear picture of your fears to your sister,” you’re well on your way of scrolling to some livelier Jay-Z.

Let us not go without praising Paradox’s writing talent, though. He can throw long-winded rhymes together in a manner that calls comparisons to Louis Logic or ‘90s Eminem. Still, nearly anyone can do this given enough time. We’re not paying $12 for the typed lyrics on the insert—we want interesting production and, dare I say it, some fucking swagger. While Paradox is far from monotone, his flow does tend to drone on because his lyrics are written so fixedly.

Paradox does, as I mentioned before, rise above the monotony on occasion. First, with assistance from Jeremiah Bonds, on “Life of an Artist.” Elliot B., who produced the entire album minus one track, offers a runaway train of a beat: blazing horns coupled with crashing drums. Here’s a beat that finally complements Paradox’s rapid-fire flow, allowing him to rap, “Basically the pain involved, I take it with a grain of salt / Never let it rest, check my step making crazy calls,” without losing the listeners in the process. And returning to Paradox’s opening self-description, “Put ‘Em Together” is a thoroughly affective reinvention of the classic “Clap Your Hands” sample.

It’s clear that Paradox has the scribing skills to write an entirely successful album; it’s simply a matter of improving his ability to write choruses and select beats.

Paradox (2) :: Called to Mind
5.5Overall Score