SoCal native Chase Highs released his debut 90’s throwback album, “Ugly Homies,” in late September of this year. With his unique vocals and practiced pen, his goal is to craft a project for the old school Hip Hop heads out there.
The first thing I’d like to comment on is the vocabulary that Chase showcases. It’s been a very long time since I’ve heard this many multisyllabic rhymes in a single project, and he makes an excellent case for why you should take his abilities seriously. As an advocate of lyricism and complex rhyme patterns, I was very excited to see this coming from an underground artist.
Chase has a voice that naturally comes in conflict with the production that it’s laced over. From what I can tell, the only way to remedy this is through artificial means. Some of you might dislike this solution, believing that voice enhancing software or editing is a discredit to the artist and a disservice to the genre. I disagree, however. Follow just about any artist long enough and you’ll hear their voice and style evolve as you listen through their discography, so why criticize an artistic choice as long as that decision is made to improve the final product? Organic sounds are definitely preferred, but it’s ridiculous to hold everybody to that standard. Regardless, the singular biggest problem with the entire album is that the mixing seemed to intentionally pit Chase against the instrumentals. Instead of dropping the volume of the beat or tuning the vocals a bit more, everything just sounds mashed together at high volume. There are way too many instances where the beat is equally as loud, or even louder than Chase, causing his clarity to plummet.
I mentioned that Chase can write earlier, but that doesn’t mean his pen is without flaws. There are a handful of lines that are filler lines whose sole purpose is to fill a multisyllabic rhyme scheme. For instance, the line “My b**** a nympho” comes up out of nowhere and just doesn’t seem to relate to the preceding or following lines in any way. Maybe it’s just me mishearing the lines entirely, as that is always a possibility. If that’s the case, then Chase’s annunciation is what makes the nympho line feel like throwaway filler. Additionally, there isn’t much diversity in his delivery. He rarely switches up his flow, and even if he does, the change is often so subtle that his verses could be swapped to other instrumentals and you likely wouldn’t have guess that they were written for a different track.
My final thoughts on “Ugly Homies” are that it’s a solid idea and concept that falls short of its own potential due to lackluster execution. I’d say that Chase has a more than capable pen, and a vocal sound all his own. The biggest shortcoming in this case happens to be the mixing. If your listeners have a hard time understanding what you’re saying in your music, then it’s hard to consider you as credible, even if you demonstrate genuine ability for the craft.
Highlights: Rhyme Structure, Production
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