Made By Crooks | Allison

 
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Family Average: 6/7

We are back at it again with another West Coast artist for us East Coast kids (and their parents) to review. Made by Crooks comes from Sacramento and served the family some story-telling and hip hop vibes on this rainy day. We also got some input from Sean’s pal Nell who joined us a special guest this week.

It’s no secret that some of us love rap and some of us hate it, but who loved and who hated his latest album, Allison? Only one way to find out! Listen along on Spotify and read on:

 
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It is always difficult for me to give my take on a kind of music I don’t often find myself listening to. That being said, I have now heard this album three times and it is safe to say that I very much enjoyed it.

Just doing my whole top-down elevator eyes on the list of tracks, I gotta say I am a fan of the concept of this album. It is just one of those things where you recommend the album to a friend at a party when you’re enthusiastically drunk, and the conversation would go something like this: “Dude you are gonna loooove it! Its like, all about relationships and the journey you take when you try to live alone”. Dang, recounting on it that sounds depressing and it is sometimes. But it is also kind of empowering, and a hundred other emotions in between.

Moving to a more sober, cold technical look: I’d say the album is pretty polished. Still I was pleasantly surprised by some unorthodox noises used in the tracks. The last little thing I’d like to touch on is I noticed that the vocals were incredibly unaltered. This was a super refreshing thing for me to hear, just letting them stand out on their own. “Where do we go from here” is a great example of this. You win album I am sad now.


5/7

 
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Made by Crooks, thank you for all that you’ve done on this album. This is the artist I have been aching for.

It’s the perfect recipe for a flawless R&B album: starting with the conversation in the beginning, talking about love, not directly to the mic, but just like the mic just happened to record it, a la The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Then we get to the instrumentals: right off the bat, funky, bassy, perfect, yes I am ready hehe. But the vocals...every single voice he has chosen in this album is perfect. Where he placed them, when he placed them, and the voices themselves, all perfect. His voice and what he does with it, the background vocals, all of them-yes. Rich Davis on “Flee” - yes Madison Gold on “Let Us” - absolutely. She reminded me a bit of Jamila Woods, but unique enough to be her own thing, with such a sweet sweet quality to her voice. Those notes at the end of “Flee” too, oh my word. He did it so well.

Please world, listen to this album.

6/7

 
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I was weary about this one. This type of music isn’t really my bread and butter, so it took me a bit. However, by the third track I was into it.

The album is like a eulogy of sorts to a relationship gone by, but also charts the emotional turmoil and personal growth experienced post-breakup. Cheery stuff. “Flee” was the golden ticket winner for me with its resonant lyrics, beats, and breathy but potent vocals. Honestly, the vocal range on this song alone was hit me hard. It was so well mixed and layered -- this is texture, people! Color me impressed. While the songs did take a depressing turn lyrically (though never musically), “Good Intentions (Part II)”  picked me up, dusted me off, and made me stop feeling sorry for myself. If I was walking down the street listening to it, there would have been a spring in my step. At times, I found the recordings and sound bites of conversations a little twee, like they were trying too hard to wax poetic about the trials and tribulations of love. But, that may just be my cold heart/cynicism rearing its ugly head. So good on you, Made by Crooks. Thanks for letting me read your diary.

5/7

 
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Rap, and yet some definite Soul and Hip Hop influences make this an easy album to listen to for me. Each track gives you just enough of these genres in the right combination.

Production is spot on, offering you a balance often missing in a lot of the music we review (editor’s note: wow Patty throwing SHADE). "Snuck in my Bed" had a Prince feel to it. That one along with "Crazy Thoughts", would be my favorite tracks. With every song, he comes across so comfortable and confident. Even though you know the music was painstakingly written and produced, you still feel like he is just talking to you. Letting you in on his feelings about love. Well written lyrics complete the package. They’re as soulful and touching as the music. I would love to see this group perform and I look forward to more from them!

6/7

 
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Sounds like if "A Tribe Called Quest" collaborated with "Gold Link", which I now realize is much needed. It has a very retro feel while referencing modern topics, such as swiping right on Tinder. I love the nod to the Missy Elliot verse in "Let It Go" in the beginning. The jazzy retro beat, soulful vocals and honest lyrics create a song with a collision of pulled inspiration. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it.

5/7

 
 
Sean Maldjian