Of Mice And Musicians – Bottles & Bones (2012)
Artist: Of Mice And Musicians
Album: Bottles and Bones
- Living Right
- Magic Johnson Swanson
- Black Key
- Sorry My Mom Called
- Chicken Legs And Deviled Eggs
- Raw Shack
- Don’t Hate
- No Pen When I Write
- Logic and the Lion
- Sound of Falling Down
- Hello, Father
- Ain’t Done Yet
I became familiar with Benjamin Miles when he hit me off with his collaborative release with Eddie Logix last year, Play It Forward. I was really impressed with his skill and his sincerity. I felt a lot of emotion and introspection in his lyrics.
He recently sent me his latest work as frontman of the group, Of Mice And Musicians (a dope name for a group by the way). I liked Benjamin Miles but I was a little leery for a couple of reasons: 1) Lightning rarely strikes twice. I was doubtful he was going to leave me with the same impression twice. 2) A live band? Usually when artist’s try this it comes up somewhere south of being hip hop and rarely is consistently dope through out the course of an album.
Well, after five listens of this album, my fears are officially relieved. As of April 13th, Bottles & Bones, is the gold standard for hip hop albums in 2012. I can’t get enough of these thirteen songs. The musical value alone makes the album phenomenal, but Miles is even better here than he was last year. His fluidity in the cut is amazing.
There are so many remarkable songs on this album, but I am going to hone in on just a few and there’s no place better to start than at the beginning. Livin’ Right is the most soulful song of the bunch. The vocals by Joe Average not only adds flavor to the track but really is the essence of it’s appeal. That is seemingly odd for a hip hop song, but his vocals combined with the bass really are the crux for the song. Benjamin Miles, our lead emcee, is the one who gives the track some of that boom bap flair:
And I’ve been thinking ’bout / Figuring out / How to keep my foot out my freakin’ mouth / And live a flippin’ day, without freakin’ out / And I’m a amazed at the way this maze geeks me out / You know the cheddar endeavors that mice squeak about / It’s like walking with my head down’s a habit / Staring at my feet like a shoe fetish addict / My back’s against the wall, I can’t stand it / And standing on two feet is a feat that I can’t manage…
Take that wordplay in your headphones and stick it.
Don’t Hate is among the most substantive tracks I have heard in a long time. There are a lot of meaningful bars that are dropped in this song. They all center around tough decisions and tough love. The music reflects that element with a very slow placed, blues feel. Mile’s first verse narrates the story of a man who can’t find work after so many months of looking, but eventually finds work in a different city. He is forced to break his family apart and move away so he can support them. The second verse details a man who grows tired of his drug addict brother who uses his mom. He grows to the point where he locks his brother up in a room so he can get better. And as the chorus goes: “Don’t hate…I’m trying to help.”
Some of the best lyricism comes on the track, Logic and the Lion. The music is a little more subtle and stripped down letting Miles showcase his talents. The interlinking wordplay is impressive. Here’s a sample:
And I am trapped on an island / stranded…trying / to build a fucking raft out of logic and lyin’ / Wish I had the life of a lion / lying in the shade while my harem is grindin’…
The whole track is loaded with alliteration and awesome wordplay. I think any fan of lyricism will be able to appreciate this joint.
In the end, Of Mice And Musicians hit their mark when they released, Bottles & Bones. Every member has a keen ear for making great music. Whether it be the cuts, the choruses, the beats, or the rhymes. They really locked everything down in perfect harmony. This album is unique in that it harbors so many different sounds and genres, which is how it should be when you have live instrumentation. At some points the album is boom bap, sometimes it’s rock, and yet at other points it is bluesy. Sometimes it waxes poetic and others it is aggressive and in your face. This album will undoubtedly appeal to a wide audience. It is accessible to people who may not fit the mold of a typical hip hop fan, yet is something any ‘true head’ would be glad to knock.
Mark my words, this album has staying power and should reap many an accolade when 2012 comes to a close.