Straight out of Saskatoon, Canadian producer Factor has just dropped a fresh set of beats with Lawson Graham, a tribute to his late grandfather. Not only do these songs stick to their hip-hop backbone, the 18 tracks explore a diverse collection of sounds and melodies that can appeal to anybody, regardless of music preference.
From the opening instrumental to the disc-closing title track, Lawson Graham is an exceptionally well-crafted hip-hop album. Factor has enlisted a wealth of talent, including familiar artists like Moka Only, and some more obscure talent, such as 2Mex and Nomad. Factors work is covered in rich textures, colourful beats, and excellent vocal work from all contributors. This is most definitely a sonically rich release, with mellow, guitar-driven tracks (such as “Not What They Seem”) to the obligatory, club-worthy dance tracks (both “Went Away” and “They Don’t Know” come to mind).
The highlight track is easily “Missed The Train”; it is absolutely relaxing, charming and undeniably enjoyable with Gregory Peppers soothing singing. The subtle guitar work really lifts the soft vocals and the otherwise melancholy lyrics. This depth of musicianship is accentuated by upright pianos, soft acoustic guitars, majestic strings and some nostalgic singing that is reminiscent of an old gramophone recording.
A clever aspect of the album is the addition of retro effects (such as the grainy, “old school” sound found on many tracks). The closing track, for example, develops on a moody style that feels very much retrospective of the sounds present in the day of Factor’s grandfather. The production ends up being fantastic, with no overpowering instruments or vocals; the effects are well done and are not over the top, but rather beneficial to the complete sound of the album. However, lyrically, the disc teeters between meaningful and just plain silly; phrases like “You ever feel like you got ripped off / At the grocery / It sure does suck” really ruin the otherwise melodic piece of art Factor has envisioned.
If Factors grandfather was alive today, hed be more than proud of his grandson for this stellar release.