A strong starter that fails to go the distance. Merging a love of hip-hop, R&B and nerd life over 17 tracks with Sleight of Hand.
Hailing from Grand Rapids, Michigan, rapper and producer Aramis has poured hip-hop, R&B and that special nerdy ingredient into countless hours to come up with a blend of music that his existing audience may just find a little surprising. Sleight of Hand marks something of a desire to create honest, personal music, as noted in opening track Keep It True.
From RAGEQUIT! which any gamer of the nineties will empathise with, to Marvel superhero references to Shaft, there’s a quick shift through fandoms straight off the bat. Gripe alert! The latter forms the basis of an ill judged skit just four tracks in, which sadly, falls very flat indeed on account of lacking in humour or adding anything of note to the release. Swiftly moving on Spider-Man forms the topic of Parker Bros. where Aramis seems to flourish exhibiting his in-depth knowledge of the many iterations of the webslinger.
Taking a break from the pop-culture references The Ride finds us slipping into R&B mode with a chilled groove forming an ever so slightly cliched ‘one for the ladies’. The song comes in stark contrast when compared to Beyond, the next entry on the track listing. Heavy synth-like guitars loop over a defined beat with a distinctive, permeating snare and quickly cut vocal hits. TekForce features. Another guest vocalist comes in the form of Suport whose differing style adds a cool edge to possibly the stand-out of the album, Welcome to the Jungle. Jangly guitars and a brass hook form a head-nodding track that doesn’t scream nerdcore.
Sadly the album plateaus somewhat at this point as the subsequent six tracks show little in the way of variation in either tempo or tone. A touch less so in the penultimate track So Odd which features 1-Up and Alpha Riff, but really only because of the vocal contrasts. Read this how you like. It’s not necessarily a criticism so long as you’re into what you’re hearing. Aramis is without doubt a talented and confident vocalist and clearly a competent producer creating music that is technically to a very high standard. Final track On My Way forms a fitting and gentle conclusion.
There’s a tremendous amount of potential in Sleight of Hand, and plenty to enjoy in the opening ten or so tracks, especially considering that you have the option to download this name your price release for as little as $0. However (and I feel bad for getting so hung up on it), the skit is awkward and completely out of place on an album that, fortunately, carries nothing of a similar nature. More so I feel that the album suffers from too many samey tracks in the final third. There’s nothing offensive, as such, about any of those tracks, they’re just too similar and there are too many. Cutting even a couple out would have done wonders for improving the impact of the release overall which could easily have coped with a shorter tracklist. It’s that age old adage, sometimes – less is more.
Sleight of Hand by Aramis is available to download as a name your price release now via bandcamp.