Detroit hip hop is something, ain’t it? Seriously, how much great music have they brought out in the last 3-4 years? No longer is New York the hot spot for great lyricism and production, the D is holding down its own purpose and maintains a heavy focus that might be jaded from in the Big Apple. Fresh from the Motor City comes Finale, a relative unknown to most, but the skill and lyricism of a savvy veteran that will surely make him a mainstay in hip hop. A Pipe Dream and a Promise is his latest craft, and on this project he brings along a handful of Michigan producers (Dilla, Black Milk, Ta’raach, and Wajeed) while bouncing in some quality hip hop music in the process.
The fascination with Finale began with the ultra-unique production by Black Milk on “One Man Show,” and Finale’s mellow, soft spoken tone. There’s a hunger and vision that Finale evidently shows as he fights off an otherwise overpowering beat. Black continues his hot stream with “Motor Music,” a headringer that has a goal of striving home the point that this is indeed Detroit hip hop; carefully constructed like it was done by the assembly line that the beloved state of Michigan pioneered.
Look to the Dilla connection on “Heat” to see that Common isn’t the only one who can rock over a Jay Dee song of that title. Finale seems to keep his best for this, and his passion, excitement, and ferocity is all over it. Dilla would be proud and honoured, especially after hearing how Finale pays homage to him over Flying Lotus’ sampling of Gap Mangione, as Dilla did for “Fall N Love.” Not to be outdone by the fury of Michigan producers, M-Phazes comes from Down Under and delivers a gem of Chipmunk soul on “What You Mean to Me,” a joint Finale claims is one of “the realest songs [he] ever wrote.” He isn’t lying, the track is deep.
It’s hard to speak negatively about the production, because there really isn’t a bad beat on this 15 track album. Not to say that Finale couldn’t survive without it, because he could. Evidently, on “Issues,” Finale speaks about the difficulty of putting his skills on display during a rough time in hip hop. He turns a laid back guitar riff on Kev Brown‘s “Style” into a jolt of energy and even gets militant with his microphone on the Nottz produced “Jumper Cables.”
To get nitpicky, there are conversations on the album that discuss the title, A Pipe Dream and a Promise. While the extra effort is much appreciated, these drops kill the momentum of the album. It also slams home a point that Finale states lyrically on just about every track anyways. Once again, that’s being picky, but it’s a falter that can easily kill the flow of 3-4 tracks that would otherwise string effortlessly together.
Aside from this hiccup, APDAAP is pretty solid throughout. Production is impressive (including Waajeed’s beautifully used “Shiieeet” by The Wire’s Senator Davis) and the lyrical meshing to the beats given is even more sublime. The problem is I don’t think Finale needed 15 tracks to get his point across. This certainly raises the bar for his next LP, but after this, I couldn’t be more excited to hear something from him.
“One Man Show”