Mike G. Dream Land.
"Anything is possible when you believe in you. Dream Land is mine and I'm about to make it true."
An artist's first official foray into the medium of music can be fraught with challenges from all sides, whether issues arise due to lack of experience or simply maintaining confidence on where they want to go creatively. There's plenty of those out there with aspirations that burn out in the midst of the recording process and get fried before even finishing, not able to turn their hopes and ambitions into the realities they want. And then there are those that succeed. With much tact and due effort Mike G's debut album Dream Land delivers an impressive center stage show and exhibits how well self-produced content can come to form. Without batting an eye this artist has carved out a gem that, while not without flaws, distinguishes itself as a strongly composed album.
To guard against overpraising this album's production I'm going to briefly note here at the outset that it's startling how well done every track is laid down with its beats and rhythms, with any and every song only resembling one another in excellence and little else. This is the kind of variety you want in the circular musical garden that is a compact disc. It's rewarding and crisp material of all kinds, by far the strongest and most robust pillar of Dream Land, with producers Raymond Wellington, Torean George, and of course Mike G doling out some righteousness here.
Early on a number of phenomena jump out in "Bright Lights," with an emerald flow of beats and guest appearance by Duece that together serve as reason enough to go out and get this album. However you try to frame the splendor in the song what certainly garners praise is the very professional finish and shine to it, from the easy-listening lyrics, to the catchy refrain, to the halcyon flight of its pulse the track awes and stuns, something anyone should share with friends and those wanting a taste of fresh sound. Mike G and Duece definitely picked a star from the ether with this one.
There is contrast to the brilliance of "Bright Lights," though, with other content on the album not twinkling as stunningly when it comes to the vocals. On matters of Mr. G's voice there are on occasions a lingering flatness when he's rounding off some lines of his work. It's not like he's mired in a monotone so much as that he doesn't sound at all in the moment of certain scenes, like the verses just weren't hitting him in the right place inspirationally. This is odd to consider since he made the album, but the lack of force behind certain verses is noticeable, slowing to a bit of a plod in terms of energy. It's not reasonable to expect the guy to go full-throttle and warp speed all the time the way someone like, say, the legendary Twista can, but the lulls somewhat tarnish the pace of his otherwise good cascades of rhyme. It's entirely possible that Mike G may just be an extremely chill guy that doesn't feel the need to to surge out his verses the way other hip-hop artists prefer to. Either way, it's his choice for how aggressively he uses his voice and no one else's, but a bit of feeling would have made certain moments in the album far more engaging to hear.
As far as the subject matter goes for Dream Land some of what's here is what you might expect a man in his mid-twenties to sing about: money ("Money Is tha Motive"), partying ("How We Party"), and sex ("Wett Dreamz"). For whatever reason farting, a significant staple of activity in the time period between 20 and 30, is not covered, a void that is stylistically understandable since Mike G may not have wanted to go there just yet. As far as complexity there are certain entries that feel fairly straightforward for what they're all about. For instance, "Wett Dreamz" is pretty much Mike G talking about how great he is at making women horny, complete with repeated invocations about what he wants to do physically with said persons of the female gender. Behold: "I'm a nice guy. Let you pick the weapon of choice. 'Cause I guarantee the thought of either one that'll leave you quite moist. Tongue game right. Lay deep pipe. You know what? Change my name to Mr. Amazing Mike."
As you can probably see little is left to the imagination when the bulge in Mike G's pants takes over his singing for him. The song does not approach the same level of natiform-centric genius that Sir Mix-A-Lot can bring (in all sincerity that man is a visionary) but, really, the words are only being what they intend to be--raunchy and raw as a steak served at a roadside strip club. Those seeking Victorian elegance and Shakespearean romance as opposed to schlock erotica would do best to look elsewhere. The artists making guest appearances on the single-focus songs are at the top of their game, fortunately, with forces like Double Cup Boyz and the devilishly stoked R-Sin showing their prowess at the mic.
Suggesting that the focus of Mike G's words are all so simple in caliber wouldn't be accurate, for the record. The production level of the album is absolutely to be commended and studied by anyone desiring a precedent of how to get your sound right on a self-produced album, but the imagery as told by the lyrics can have its more developed moments. The first and last songs of the album, "The Awakening" and "Dream Land," are more layered than the rest, along with another track "F.A.M.E." that hones in on the idea of fulfillment, with the acronym F.A.M.E. standing for "Found All My Everything" as opposed to just mere fame with a lower-case "f." So there are developed points of interest among the more basic tunes.
There is one peculiar aspect of Mike G and Dream Land that really comes off as surprising: the relative obscurity of information on the Internet surrounding this man and his only album. Aside from a little niche on Amazon and a tiny custom site playing bites of the music Mike G is nowhere to be found. This East Clevelander's got talent so at the very least he deserves to give himself a free Wordpress or Blogspot site to spread news about it. (Editor’s Note: Mike G has a Facebook site (see above link), and is currently serving in the military. He has another album in the works, and is sharing songs on his FB page.)
What remains at the end of an experience with Dream Land is the realization that Mike G is a highly capable and competent musician. There are definitely minuses to go with the merits here but the bottom line is that it is immensely impressive that someone could bring together something of this skill on their first release. There might be heavy criticisms for what could have been done better but the production craftsmanship is very laudable, and with a bit of luck (as well as substantially better self-promotion) Mike G could easily see himself at the helm of a very successful record label- provided he keeps at it. Without a doubt this is a guy that's got not only potential but something he wants to say to the world. Here's to hoping that he follows his dreams.
Personnel: Mike "Michael George" G
Tracks: The Awakening, Bright Lights (feat. Duece), Game Change, Step In Show Out, How We Party (feat. Double Cup Boyz), 3G'z (feat. Sema'j Strugglez, Gez), Money is tha Motive (feat. R-Sin), Sweet Heart, C.A.G. (feat. Duece), Heat Roc, Watch Me, All Eyes on Me, Wett Dreamz (feat. Duece), What Do You See, F.A.M.E. (Found All My Everything), Dream Land.
|A thoughtful Mike G. Stay well, and come home safe.|