Los Angeles-based rap producer Exile doesn’t craft tracks that really knock. Instead, he opts for slickly amalgamated beats. often swathed in obscure samples and buttery piano, that woo underground-rap aesthetes with audible ease. The guy indisputably knows his way around an MPC, but problems begin when he reaches for the mic, which happens a lot on his latest album, 4TRK Mind. Fact is, he isn’t much of a rapper. Most of the time, he sounds incapable, and, consequently, awkward trying to pull interesting verses out of a bag he just doesn’t own: “It’s your boy / So go home, boy” begins his first verse on “Klesto“, Almost as thwarting to him is that his idea of a hook can be pretty dicey: “Oh, shit / I forgot my condoms / I forgot my condoms/ I forgot my condoms” goes the chorus of “If You Know Like I Know”. Seriously.
In terms of production, this album definitely revolves around Exile’s Madlib-indebted style, but it seems as though he culled a bunch of beats that rappers didn‘t want from him and tried to make something cohesive out of them. Moreover, the stand-alone samples he tacks on to the beginnings and endings of nearly every song just seem like a lazy way to fill time. “Younger Days” and “Love, Luv, Love” are obvious standouts, but 4TRK Mind is ultimately underwhelming. It’s too much filler and not nearly enough killer.
// Notes from the Road
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