Savan DePaul presents us with his latest work “Sketchpad.” Savan takes us to the “International House of Production”, and serves us bottomless tracks of intergalactic, complex, rich, surreal, and creative musicianship. Mr. DePaul’s skill level behind the boards has me reminiscing about Moby and the Chemical Brothers in their heyday or current act “Empire of the Sun.” Now some may argue that the lyrical skills takes a back seat to the beats, but I had to disagree. Savan may have an abstract, abnormal flow, but the artist has somehow managed to blur the lines between traditional Hip-Hop and Spoken Word; and then merge the two into his own style. Sometimes when I listen to “Sketchpad” I hear flashes of Def Poetry luminary Saul Williams; while in other spots I hear nineties underground rapper Jeru Da Damaja on Redbull. Never the less, it is very entrancing.
On the title track Savan informs us of his frustration with mental disorders, and how they hamper his creative vision. Over a drum and based influenced percussion, and relaxing wind filled production; an individual gives us deeply personal accounts of challenges they face and refuse to succumb too. “DePaul, Be Yourself” is just a master class of simulated sounds arranged in perfect harmony that blossoms from second to second. It’s amazing how all the moving parts work together, and don’t overshadow or crowd each other.
“Day Trip to Gomorrah” and “Part 3” are songs about night life and the pursuit of sex. It’s really incredible how these track support Savan’s style, and more traditional rhyming via the well done verse by rapper Wilfrid on “Daytrip to Gomorrah.” The reggae influenced “Part 3” just solidifies the artists versatility with production.
“501” is a posse cut over alarming pianos, and filled with boastful backpacker friendly rhymes. Once again, on “Find the Peace” and “Incorporus” the artist displays exceptional craftsmanship on the production. On “Incorporus”, Savan engages in a wordplay workout with rapper Fats; until he flips the beat mid song into what sounds like an Asian influenced arrangement. The “Kid Ice Interlude” starts of minimally and slowly swells into pulsating percussion, ambient whistling with a busy background. Its jaw droopingly good. Just when you think that all the Mr. Depaul has to offer is interstellar beats and surreal production he hit us with “Simplicity.” “Simplicity” is smooth with a bouncing baseline and finished with what I think is simulated hand bells. It’s just plain excellent.
“Sketchpad” is not your typical, mainstream rap album, which is refreshing. Savan courageously takes us where no emcee has gone before. Purists might have a problem with the abstract, unorthodox rap style but I don’t. Just do what ninety-five percent of the rap community needs to do; perfect it. There is no other way to say it: The production is immaculate. We need more. Well Done!