Locke - Close to Home
Record Label: Go Midnight Records
Release Date: November 11, 2008
With acts like Soulja boy and Gucci Mane flooding the hip-hop scene, one could only hope for a decent enough MC to be found somewhere in the nooks and crannies of the underground rap world. Spokane, Washington-raised Andrew Locke is one of those few. With vocal spits similar to that of Mike Shinoda and Travis McCoy, Locke proves himself worthy of recognition.
Locke is very personal with his music -- his delivery is spot-on. His flow is very natural as well, which helps the music and lyrics move along harmoniously. Locke's beats are, for the most part, hip-hop, but he is still able to retain his love for indie in the album. In "Close to Home", a guitar solo is present near the end of the song, and the synth is used and abused in cheery "My Window". In songs like "High Five" horns help back up the melody, and in various songs on the album the turntables are spun and mixed like no other. The best thing about Locke's music is he is able to combine old-school hip-hop, new school hip-hop, and indie into one album. In "Lost And Found," strings are present as well as an old school backbeat. "Happy Feet" is dominated by turntables and horns that give-off an 1980's Brooklyn-based backyard basketball vibe. New school is present in "Just Breathe," which could have easily been a song produced by the likes of Kanye West. It is a dreamy song with "ahhs," clean drums, and a harp. In the bright number "My Window," the synth is boss; the melody helps really create a shape for the song, giving it a cheery feel.
The thing that hit me the hardest about this record are the lyrics. With rap and hip-hop these days, lyrics are becoming extremely mediocre and unnecessary. In "Cause and Effect," Locke sings "These days I'm not impressed by nothing anymore / Since when did rap and whack become a fashion statement?" These lines are exactly referring to what is wrong with hip-hop today. Locke is not afraid to say what's on his mind, and this album proof. In "Indie Rock Soul Clap," Locke says, "Teenager on the streets of Spokane/I lived for skateboarding and loved punk-rock bands/All I needed was a place to skate, friends to relate, and a fresh mixtape to motivate me daily." Here Locke is explaining how he came to be. In "High Five," Locke says, "Oh look! He's, he's trying rap, look!/How cute, oh Joe, look, he's using both of his hands!/How adorable! Where's the camera?" It is evident here that Locke is mocking all of those who've laughed at the idea of him rapping. Many of these lyrics are very deep, which is something a lot popular rappers choose to neglect in their radio-friendly music.
The production on the record is crispy-clean. The drums are clean-cut for the new school songs, and more raw for the ones with a more old-school vibe. Various instruments are used, such as the harp, synth, piano, guitar turntables, horns (trumpets, saxophone), and more. The amount of variety on the record is great, it is not too much or too little, but just perfect for the album. Locke is very creative with his music; the use of various instruments, diversity among the songs in terms of style, as well as a handful of guests help keep the album entertaining.
The album is very catchy, while the beats are lively and the music is meaningful. Locke's music is very refreshing and unique; hopefully the album will be taking him places despite the lack of over-done beats and cheesy lyrics in his music.