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Review | Special – ‘Mind’s Eye’ (Album)

Canadian rapper Special, brings the summer with him on his new 11-track album ‘Mind’s Eye‘.

Most known for his Jersey Shore-themed viral hit, ‘T-Shirt Time’, Special has been making considerable noise in recent years, featuring in the Wall Street Journal and forming a successful music collective. The Toronto emcee returns with his album Mind’s Eye, a naturally accessible blend of commercial and classic hip hop.

Maintaining a consistently mellow tone throughout, Mind’s Eye is ideal summer listening. Drawing on a range of producers, the beats are effortlessly soulful, resting unobtrusively beneath Special’s polished raps. While there is an intense focus on lyrics, Special intelligently makes space for some well-placed hooks. ‘Can’t Get Down’ is a particular highlight with vocalist Tony Blount well-nigh, channelling D’Angelo on the track’s outro. Vocalists fair particularly well all round, with top features from Burgaboy on latest single ‘Friends with Benefits‘, and fellow E-Team member Oriana is utterly stunning on ‘Class of 2013‘.

Along with some adept DJ scratches on the classic-sounding opener ‘Big Brother‘ and on poignant closer ‘4EVA’, Mind’s Eye again demonstrates Special’s distinct flow. The Canadian rapper wears his LL Cool J influence on his sleeve; it is clear in his inflection, and as such evokes a real New York vibe in his music. While the flow is sometimes too similar throughout, the welcome exception is ‘Ninety Two Jawn‘, where Special switches up the pace ever so slightly. The brief use of the hashtag flow on ‘Everybody Wanna Be A Star‘ may also be a misstep, but a minor one, which the track’s reference to Group Home more than makes up for. Like good old LL, Special’s music, especially on this project, has suitable substance but is instantly listenable.

As he plans to head out on his first official tour in 2014, and on the back of critical acclaimed house-influenced projects in Europe, it’s time for Special to spread that hip hop love to the UK, by taking it back to his roots. Play Mind’s Eye at your BBQ’s as the last of the summer sun shows it face, and appreciate a special talent from across the pond.||

Written by Jack O’Neill

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