On Nights Like These , Outasight struggles to convey a distinctive artistic identity, ultimately overindulging in a trendy bag of tricks.
Yonkers, New York hip-hop artist Outasight (Richard Andrew) delivers his 2012 major label debut Nights Like These building off the success of platinum single “Tonight Is The Night”. A former college dropout experiencing trying times of being broke, struggling to make his artistic dreams a reality, Outasight would eventually land a major label deal with Warner Bros. Major label “OU” (his nickname) transcends hip-hop aiming to be an amalgamation of styles including pop, rap, and dance. Throughout the thirty-six minute course of Nights Like These, he attempts to balance eclecticism, ultimately delivering an album flawed by clichés and lack of his own signature individuality. Sound production work and catchy choruses help to salvage the effort somewhat.
“Let’s Go” initiates the effort with a distorted synth. After cliché drumstick clicks count off, the cut settles into pop/rock fare, characterized by gritty guitars and pummeling drums. Outasight’s approach is formulaic, opting to half-rap and half-sing his verses, unified by a sung chorus. Non-revolutionary, the formula merely assimilates to current trends. Outasight’s artistic energy translates somewhat, but overall results are clunky and mixed.
Proceeding “Shine” instantly feels more of a natural fit. Characterized by jubilant synths and animated hip-hop beat, the conception is smarter. Outasight focuses exclusively on rapping on his verse, only singing an undeniable hook (“Ride, ride, ride around the city / I got my windows down and I wanna take you with me…”). Aided by rap duo Chiddy Bang, “Chiddy” Anamege delivers a compelling guest verse. “Shine” balances pop and hip-hop sensibilities representing the best of Nights Like These.
“I’ll Drink To That” doesn’t quite reach the loftiness of “Shine”, but packs a solid punch. Conveying a reassuring message of embracing the good and ‘what you’ve got’ through struggles, Outsight articulates his story soundly. His smartest decision? Sole adherence to pop. Things begin to unravel and trend indistinct after this with “Perfect Words” revisiting a flawed pop-rap formula. While the dusty hip-hop beat is strong, “Perfect Words” itself wreaks of mediocrity. Rap, sing the second half, and drive home the chorus, a lack of surprise harms.
“Ready Set Go” continues an approach that is ‘more of the same’ differentiated only by its dance-pop production; the perception that Outasight has overplayed his hand gains traction. On “If I Fall Down”, as Outasight raps, his inflections are both imitative and gimmicky, adhering and playing victim to every pop cue (and miscue) of recent times. A ‘bread-and-butter’ chorus temporary soothes ills (“Running and running but I’m already here, waiting for something but for what it’s not clear”), but ultimately the cut follows more than it leads.
Platinum single “Tonight is the Night” provides a necessary lift. Not completely diverse from the multitude, the cut benefits from its healthy balance of pop, dance, and pop-rap. Albeit predictable scripting, more focused attention to detail and nuance shape its success. “Under Lock and Key” featuring RJ attempts to build off a surge of momentum by delivering a diversified production from its predecessors. The simplistic hook latches initially, but its catchiness wanes into unfortunate and annoying wear.
Penultimate second single “Now Or Never” clings helplessly onto predictability, undoing itself with over-repetitiveness and so-so songwriting. It’s largest flaw is its inability to duplicate the success of “Tonight Is the Night”. “Nights Like These” concludes solidly, though lacks the grandeur of “Shine” or “Tonight Is the Night”.
Overall, Nights Like These suffers from a lack of differentiation, variation and overindulgence in trendiness. Outasight attempts to establish artistry based on current trends as opposed to paving his own way to create a distinct pop-rap album. Unfortunately for OU, Nights Like These fails to show enough flashes of individuality, brilliance, and distinction from counterparts and other artists. Because of shortcomings, the effort disappoints more than it triumphs.