You may recall at the end of 2011 reading about an album topping “Best of 2011” lists by an unknown duo going by the name of Rashad & Confidence. Then again, you may have not as it wasn’t reviewed by any major online hip hop website, including us here at Rap Reviews. Don’t worry, I’ll be covering it soon enough. It’s only taken a year for another album to pop up with Confidence’s name attached to it and yet again, we have another overlooked record with some absolutely stellar sounds to nod your head to.
The beats on “The Purpose of Confidence” sound like early Dilated Peoples instrumentals, but updated for the HD-era. Very boom bap yet offering a polish that ensures it doesn’t sound old school. The album doesn’t have the distinctive sound that an Apollo Brown release does, but it benefits from more versatile backdrops. I do find however, that if I heard a Confidence beat on another record I’m not sure I’d differentiate it from other boom bap producers. Whilst this may seem like a negative aspect it does ensure each beat compliments rather than dominates the vocals. There are a couple of beats that don’t quite grab the ear but at least 10 of the 15 tracks are absolute bangers. While Purpose flows well enough and has a voice that rides the drums well, he doesn’t really stand out as an MC I would want to explore further. He reminds me of Stricklin without the humour or Torae without the aggression. So undoubtedly he is in good company but he isn’t exactly distinctive.
Purpose is at his best when telling a story (“Promise Me This”) or sharing memories from his younger days (“What It Means To You”). Both tracks are backed up by some beautiful beats but nothing on the album touches the aural delights of “Vision of Excellence” featuring Queensbridge legend Cormega and Estee Nack from Purpose’s group Tragic Allies. It’s perfectly placed at #3 on the record as whilst the “The Break Down” is a great start, and “Rep To The Death” keeps the momentum going (albeit with a quiet Celph Titled sample on the hook) as soon as “Vision of Excellence” hits you realise Confidence is a special beat-maker. All three MCs tear it up and the scratched hook has a great Guru sample from Gang Starr’s “Royalty”. There are numerous nods to the work of East Coast Hip Hop legends and whilst some samples are more obvious than others, the way Jeru the Damaja’s “D Original” is manipulated into another supreme neck-snappper on “The Way That I Sound” will certainly have the hip hop community nodding in approval. Purpose holds his own and drops some nice lines:
“The saga resumes…
My sound is fresher than a baby cryin’ comin’ out of the womb
Even fresher than a flower startin’ to bloom
A marvellous tomb, hear the name it’s not hard to assume
That I’ma bring you the very best of the best of this craft
I’m stressin’ this fact, the best is my effortless rap
Your one track will cause a memory lapse
How’s it feel to be forgettable, forever we laugh
In fact you should vanish and run, the damage is done
There’s way too many amateurs with cancerous tongues
Who can fuck with me? The answer is none
Purchase my verses, it’s like a million dollars in the hand of a bum
Disadvantage for some, or maybe most, no-one comes close
I stomp folks, I get a million votes just from one quote
You know what happens right before the gun smokes
I’m like a bunch of poppy seeds before it comes dope
I’m cut-throat when rappin’, it’s a disastrous act
Get smashed, I tell you who but only after the fact
I’m like a runaway train on the track, no de-railing the verse
get your feelings hurt when dealing with Purp'”.
Although not a particularly noteworthy rapper, Purpose does his thing and maintains a strong level of consistency throughout. “Unstoppable” showcases Purpose’s experience on the mic’ as his diction is well honed and his delivery is reminiscent of Termanology:
“Rain Drops” is an eerily beautiful production with Alize Lugo providing a distinctive vocal performance that complements the piano, whilst the drums sound like a matchbox being struck. “So Goes The Story” is a solid boom bap record where Purpose operates on a higher level than Confidence for once. It is easy to overlook Purpose on this release as the overall East Coast throwback sound Confidence provides is just constantly impressive. He’s a damn fine emcee, yet each track is conceptually the clichÃ© “underground hip hop” record, rinsed and repeated. If you are not a fan of artists such as Dilated Peoples or Gang Starr, or even recent boom bap collaborative efforts from Bumpy Knuckles (with DJ Premier) and OC (with Apollo Brown), then you likely won’t find anything different or interesting here. But then, if you don’t enjoy any of those artists, why are you listening to hip hop in the first place? “The Purpose of Confidence” is a very good collaboration between two young artists pushing to keep the sound of a bygone era alive, but it’s an album that doesn’t experiment enough lyrically to go down as a great piece of hip hop.