Gabriel Alexander: Electric City (Review)

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PhotoWith the current trend of music right now moving into the electronic sub-genres of House, EDM and especially in Hip Hop, Trap, it was only a matter of time until I wrote a review of a project following the aforementioned trend. Gabriel Alexander‘s debut mixtape “Who Is Gabriel Alexander?” was very much a upbeat, poppy, feel-good project and I expect nothing less from “Electric City“. I’d be surprised if Gabriel has allowed for room on any slower-tempo, more melancholic songs on the mixtape, but I enjoyed the few which popped up on the previous project so I hope to find atleast one, just to create a more varied tone and mood other than euphoria in the music. Either way I have a high standard of expectation going into listening to “Electric City”, and I hope the producer-turned-artist does not let me down. 

The introductory track which was released as a single by Gabriel is “The City Never Sleeps” featuring Jesse Evans and produced by Gabriel himself, credited under his producer pseudonym Bbeck. The hook is my favourite part of this song as the slower tempo actually allows the single to be more radio-friendly than the up-beat, trap-rap verses. The verses aren’t by any means worse than anything currently on the radio however, they just don’t quite fit my taste because of the generic lyricism. There are only so many times I can hear a verse about “sipping Bacardi”. Gabriel and Jesse have been able to emulate every/any club-hop song of the past few years without bringing anything new to the table, except perhaps for the “chin twerking” reference. An enjoyable song that I would love to hear in a club, but aside from that environment, I don’t think I’d take any heightened interest in “The City Never Sleeps”. 

The second track of “Electric City” is “Killin Em” featuring Rio and is produced by Logan Chapman, who I believe worked on the “Who Is Gabriel Alexander?” project too. The track has similarities to a number of songs, but doesn’t sound exactly like anything I could name. For that reason, I’m not sure how much “Killin Em” is suitable for radio or club circuits due to its lack of a distinct drop in bass. Rio’s rap verse is the saving grace of the song as it began to become monotonous. The verse isn’t anything mind-blowing or something I expect to be quoted a lot, but the change in the song, sonically, was much needed and a featured verse with different generic conventions hit the right spot. I don’t expect this song to be anyone’s favourite song of the tape, because the top and bottom of it is, this is nothing more and nothing less than average, debatable even a filler. 

The L.A. Gholson featured “We Just Wanna Party” follows on. The self-produced beat lays the foundation for a track reminiscent of “12 Shots” from Gabriel’s previous mixtape, predominantly due to the hook’s repetition of “We Just Wanna Party” similar to the “Ain’t nobody got time for that” in the adlib. In this song I feel like there is too much going on, that opinion may change if I get intoxicated and hear this during pre-drinks or even at a club similar to “Yeezus”‘s “Hold My Liqour”. Bbeck’s production is brilliant, even the rapped verses are enjoyable as long as you’re not expecting anything overly intelligent, I think it is the adlib’s that are the problem. Gabriel nailed adlibs perfectly in the last tape so I’m surprised that he was able to over-use them for this song. Probably best to not listen to this song if you’re not looking into an empty bottle of vodka. 

Approaching the half-way mark of the mixtape, I worry that Gabriel Alexander is giving us nothing new in “Electric City”. In his debut, which made me a fan of the Virginia artist, he offered a variety of themes and sounds, in the follow up it appears we are keeping to the singular, monotonous theme of partying and the similar sounding beats. This Zaiah Burke collaboration is a deja vu of the preceding records, throwaway average-at-best lyrics over an uptempo, EDM beat which is incredible and the only thing making “Let It Rock” bearable, but I could never distinguish it from the others previously showcased. I’m hoping that the second half of the album offers some differentiation, or I worry Gabriel has delivered a disappointment. 

I’m guessing that Gabriel doesn’t read my reviews which express my hate for skits, well track five’s titled “Skit” is supposed to offer a break from the previous tracks which Alexander expects has us “mind-blown”. I think underwhelmed is a better phrase and this skit does nothing to improve my opinion of “Electric City” so far. I admit, that sometimes an interlude is a good idea to break up the music is necessary. Next time however, I’d advise Gabriel to lay down some acapella vocals, take some time to thank the listeners, offer insight to the previous or next tracks. In all honesty, anything but a near-three minute conversation between friends which offers nothing but an insight to the artists sex life.  

Finally. Thank God. Or rather, thank Tha Ghostwalker for producing a less-busy, more-radio-ready, enjoyable beat for this Gabriel Alexander featuring Junes Flyest (Who features in the skit) song which is easily the best of the entire mixtape. I’m not saying BBeck is a bad producer, I think he’s quite the opposite, I just perhaps their is a little too much maximalism going on in the beats he produced for this project. The Ghostwalker delivers something more minimalistic and yet equally poppy. “Interstate 64” has reinstated my faith in Gabriel and produced a slight optimism within my ear drums for a much better second half. Arguably the best ever Gabriel Alexander song I have heard!

Bbeck’s return to the production boards for “Set It Off” sees a return of the busy instrumental I was hoping I had seen the last of. An awful hook and bridge interrupts what proves to be pretty brilliant verses in relation to this genre at least. The Chase Ave and Mek featured track is assisted by arguably the best Bbeck produced beat of the album and I could easily envisage a dance floor fist pumping and twerking to this track solely because of the incredible instrumental. I feel as though this track epitomises the entire mixtape best; sub-par chorus, good albeit unoriginal verses and a plethora of stand out production. 

Let The Crazy Out” is a continuation of trends set by those preceding it on the mixtape. A serious case of a lack of originality. In all honesty this is one of the better but still it sounds too similar to the likes of Chris Brown except the lyricism is dumbed down another level. The production is surprisingly minimilised in comparison to the rest of “Electric City” and because of that, I enjoyed it more and felt Alexander’s vocals were able to flourish due to the lack of dub-step shaped distractions. This song sounds distinguishably different to many others on the tape, and variety is a rarity on the project. However, the fact the track is continuing negative trends means that it is another disappointment. Had this track been on “Who Is Gabriel Alexander?” I probably would have loved it, but in the situation it is in, there is too much similarity in themes and a deficit of freshness. 

The projects penultimate record, “Toast To The Weekend“, is yet again a song centring around clubbing culture and due to the fact at least five other songs have sounded like the exact same lyrics, I can’t stand the song. The hook however, is incredible. It’s a shame that the chorus is wasted upon a song which is constructed with one of the weakest beats of “Electric City” and the verses aren’t anywhere near as good as Gabriel Alexander has proved he can create in the past.  

The closing track of “Electric City” is “Spending Time With You“. This might be the first song which feels personal to Gabriel Alexander, perhaps written with his girlfriend, who prominently features in his Instagram photos, in mind. The song features similarities to D-Pryde and Jake Miller and other artists of that ilk, but the personal touch and passionate delivery means that a criticism of being too similar to other songs already made by other musicians is void.  

Gabriel Alexander’s debut mixtape is one of my favourites of 2013, and I think that may be why I am so disappointed with the follow up; “Electric City”. The project’s production is brilliant, and proves why Bbeck has been so successful in that aspect of being a professional musician. Although at times the lyricism is amazingly awful, that is something I could get over due to the fact the electro-pop and dance genres aren’t renowned for deep, intelligent, emotionally resonating wordplay. The main problem I found with “Electric City” is the lack of variation. Thematically; taking shots and pulling women was suffocating to my eardrums, even featuring within the skit. Another problem was Alexander’s lack of originality. Bloggers love to draw comparisons between artists, but personally I felt it was too easy when it came to “Electric City”. I can understand and respect taking influence of idols, but copying current artists’ sound is something I think beyond Gabriel. He has far too much talent to be near-imitating current mainstream musicians with less ability. I hope that my opposition against “Electric City” is due to my unfamiliarity with the genre and that it can please fans of House, EDM and Dubstep. I eagerly await a third project from Gabriel, and hope to see “Electric City”‘s production mixed with the variety of themes and emotions of “Who Is Gabriel Alexander?”

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Stand Out Song(s) – “Interstate 64”

Mixtape Rating – 3.25/5

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Follow Gabriel Alexander via Twitter (Click Here) and await a download link for “Electric City” on the 30th of July.

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