Saturday, July 9, 2016

Bernz gets by with a little help from his friends in 'See You On The Other Side'

See You On The Other Side by Bernz
Strange Music fusion group Mayday has become exquisitely popular in hip-hop circles in the last several years due in no small part to its four man panel of highly creative musicians but also due to the two emcees in the band, Wrekonize and Bernz.  Of both men, Wrekonize started his single-man career first, releasing one LP in 2010 and then another in 2013, but now it's Bernz' turn to shine solo.  See You On The Other Side, Bernz' official debut studio album (July 8, Strange Music Inc), is a less than ecstatic hip-hop goodie made by experts and professionals of their craft, but before anyone goes into the project, they should know that while it is structurally hip-hop to the core with plenty of bluesy cool productions and toe-tappable beats with solid vocals of course (including some from other Strange Music artists), it drips with melancholy, poignant pensiveness and heavy feelings of helplessness from its big filled-to-the-brim cup of coping elixir, metaphorically speaking.  It's for the mopers.  Be warned.  It lacks a good measure of positivity, powerful charging resolve and resoluteness, but if you take with a grain of salt all the gloomy despondency found nearly everywhere on S.Y.O.T.O.S., you'll be just fine.

"Came To Say Goodbye" offers disillusionment before possibly the album's best cut overall, "Outta My Brain."  Atlanta lyrical wizard Jarren Benton joins Bernz to deal with life frustrations over fast catchy guitar strums.  It's a real banger for the summer or anytime, venting and letting all its burdens hang out, with swagger and great showmanship.  "Smoke N' F**k" is dedicated to Bernz' dream girl, "Dancing With The Devil" to living on the edge, and "Chasing Shadows" to general malaise where the philosophical nihilism is directed at dissing the everyday capitalistic grind and bloggers among other things.  The sadness continues in "When It's Gone," this time because of no faith or confidence in a relationship, and then MURS, who is great, makes a few remarks in "Bed Of Nails" to the effect that critics build artists up waiting for them to fall, which in virtually every genuine case couldn't be further from the truth.  MURS just released a masterful LP in 2015 called Have A Nice Life so how could anyone wish hard times on the man for it?  It was a great sincere gift; however, part of the whole staged attitude of the song feels a little scripted to service its theme.  His dislike for critics might be exaggerated to an extent for the track.

Moving on, we get some cynicism in "Vicious" with an uncredited feature from Thirstin Howl III and then some feelings of disapproval in "It Don't Go."  "Call Me In The Morning" drinks and smokes when the troubles stack up (hopefully not to destruction) and the next and last three songs though still kind of down and out tend to chill and mellow a bit so things don't feel so nasty once the finale "Sunday Sin" comes through pumping and pounding in the music so we can all clap our hands and nod our heads.  Bernz is a good rapper and emcee for his class here bar none, not out of this world, but very much respectable, yet to some people, his all-original rhymes might seem to be at too intermediate a level, in the casual delivery he often uses.  The themes, topics, tropes and subject matter could benefit from getting out of the house, but then again they are a reflection, analogy and address of these days' very hard times and concomitant disenfranchisement.  SYOTOS' greatest life lines are its solid music and guests though.  It's definitely a rap album one hundred percent but maybe not a technically mind-blowing or jaw-dropping one from a lyrical standpoint, plus it's incredibly depressive which hurts somewhat.  Overall, and as far as hip-hop albums are concerned, the final verdict for Bernz in See You On The Other Side is - good.

3 out of 5 stars

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