I have to say this one came as a surprise to me for several reasons. I had to double check to make sure but this is in fact the same Toronto based emcee who was one half of Perfeck Strangers along with Dan-e-o. I actually would have disqualified myself from writing about Promise this week based on my URBNET hiatus announced last week, but as it turns out Promise joined the Good Fruit label based out of Atlanta, GA. In fact Promise is the first artist signed to the label who wasn’t one of the founders OF said label — they being J. Han, Sam Ock and AMP respectively.

Another reason this release came as a surprise to me is that I remember Promise largely living up to his name in his partnership with Dan. They were a solid lyrical tag team, playing off each other in a friendly and humorous way, crafting an album reminiscent of classic hip-hop partnerships like Run and D.M.C. or Pharoahe Monch and Prince Po. The Perfeck Strangers were anything but strange to each other, and I expected many more collaborations between the two not to mention more dope solo projects from each. Dan-e-o kept right on working but for whatever reason (more likely my fault than his) Promise dropped right off my radar. Now that he’s back he doesn’t sound like the same dude at all. If you told me this wasn’t the same person I would honestly believe you because on the opening track “Right Now” he’s not even spitting bars – he’s doing that tuned up sing-rapping instead.

“So what if they gon’ hate? I’m already on my way…
So what if they don’t play me? I’m doing my own, thing…
Yup yup yup!
You got 99 problems but this time don’t stop…
I got a guy who can solve ’em, just keep your eyes on, top…
And live that life right now”

I’m trying to get it and I don’t. I left those ellipsis in to showcase the long and unnatural pauses in the singing, as if Promise is trying to emphasize a point with his flow, but the point is that I don’t care for his singing either way. I was hoping that like the recent Tonedeff album I covered that he’d just be singing occasionally and it would be interspersed with rap songs, but “Why Don’t You” quickly disspelled those hopes. He does spit a few bars on the song but the singing is still the focus, and for the part where he is rapping there’s some unnecessary distortion effect added to the vocals that doesn’t improve them at all.

At this point Promise gets lost in the mix entirely because the rest of “TellAVision” is bogged down with guest stars like Jon Hope, Shad, Montell Jordan, No Malice (Clipse) and MC Jin among others. It’s certainly an impressive list of contributors especially for such a short release but the times where Promise can stand out among them like “Cliches & Trends” he’s still singing. Now I can’t be a stick in the mud and tell artists not to progress and evolve just to meet my expectations. It’s not like De La Soul could have survived from the 1980’s to the present day without changing along the way, but thankfully I’ve enjoyed each evolution of that style because they maintained a core aesthetic while adding onto it in innovative ways. To me it sounds like Promise completely abandoned everything he was from the old days to embrace his new spiritual ways, and let me emphasize SPIRITUAL because you’d have to be blind to not notice he sounds like KB now in terms of subject matter – just without KB’s natural charm. Follow your heart if that’s what you believe in but I believed in Promise as a rapper and not as a gospel singer and that promise has been broken.

Promise :: TellAVision
5Overall Score