|Album Review: Noah O x Taylor Whitelow – Monument Avenue|
Noah O x Taylor Whitelow
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Persistence is a funny thing. If pride personified is an athletic, ruggedly handsome, shining spectacle of the "jock" – persistence would be its know-it-all little brother, refined and slightly more sophisticated. The timeless adage leads you to believe this value is key, but It really teeters the line between admirable and flat-out fucking annoying. Worn properly, persistence can be a reliable wing-man; worn improperly and it can be the obnoxious and embarrassing friend you brought to the party disguised as the wing-man. Persistence compelled OJ Simpson to write "If I did do it". Persistence is what lead Cannibus to rap demise in his battle with Dizaster, and can also be attributed to why Papoose looks the way he does trying to stay relevant. At the same time, persistence can earn you six championship rings and considered the greatest basketball player to ever grace the game. It can make you successful in two sports and, in extreme circumstances, can turn you from a low level coke dealer to the worlds most renown rapper, married to world's most beloved R&B diva.
Noah O's Monument Avenue is a testament, among other things, to persistence. The good kind. He's somewhat of a veteran, having already frequently collaborated with the likes of fellow Richmond natives Skillz and Nickelus F. He's even hosted after parties for friend Juicy J when he comes into town. Noah's age is reflected in his rhymes. His adolescent years were spent studying the legends as they were becoming legends, but this is no indicator of what one should expect to hear. There aren't any jaded bars reminiscing the days of old and how things were "so much better". His lyrical display is characteristic of the philosophy that one must embody the change they want to see in the world. Nothing more, nothing less. What he and producer Taylor Whitelow have created is an ideal hip-hop album, characterized with all the classic nuances, but aurally sprinkled with some fresh sounds. Created over a process of two years, Monument Avenue is a narrative that plays like a Spike Lee film; part informational, part inspirational, part sad reality.
Noah has been putting in work on the Richmond rap scene for quite some time. Born in San Franciso, CA, the Filipino-Siciclian-American moved to Virginia's capital city at a young age with his family and embraced it's un-congealed and yet divided culture. This theme is omnipresent in Monument Avenue, and while a hip hop album wouldn't be a hip hop album without a little braggadocio, M.A. is a statement to the city's have-not's.
Producer Taylor Whitelow wanted this album flow seamlessly together, providing nuances such as segue's and meaningful interludes. Although seen as taboo these days, Whitelow is not afraid to use samples, which is evident in the combination of all of these things helps it manifest from an album to feeling more like a soundtrack. Although the upbeat sound of Summer is clearly upon us, this album provides a nice break from all the energy with it's laid back vibe. This is music you can kick back and ride to on those Summer nights. Noah and Taylor fully immerse you in this drive down Monument Avenue.
The two are already in the process of working on a sequel to the album. In the meantime, Noah has been making plenty of noise on the Virginia rap circuit spearheading his label Charged Up Enterprise. Expect to hear more from label-mates Yankee and Big Fred in the coming months.