Intoxicated Enlightenment: An Album Review
Release Date: August 13 2015
Favorite Tracks: Chaser, Intoxicated Enlightenment, Gilligan's Island, Nothing to Change, Live a little, King Author, Sweetest Thing Ever, Happy Hour.
Released early to a demanding request from his fans on social media, Harlem native Mike Mitch supplies the world with, without any doubt, his best work to date. In the two year hiatus since his last solo project, Acts of an Upperclassmen, Mitch has mostly taken the role of engineer and mixed many artists' singles and projects. Most importantly, however, he has taken that time off for his craft, as improvements in all fronts are clearly evident in this album. Like his last solo project, Intoxicated Enlightenment mirrors a well-thought-out concept album meant to sustain its message lingering in the listener's head. Mitch displays correlations between "intoxicants" and "enlightenment", this multi-layered concept being the driving theme of the project. Having the heavy synth-based sounds complimenting this concept most of the time, Mitch spits over these turn-up styled instrumentals. Although the sounds are mostly up-beat, Mitch supplies a conscious undertone, hidden within his lyrics, meant to carry weight for the entire project.
Concept and lyricism:
The album kicks off with the song Chaser. The song lives up to its name as the chorus states "And I don't really care for a chaser. Henny, straight shots, no chaser", making you think the song has one purpose and one purpose only ...
The song, however, forces us to tap into a different mindstate (enlightenment), as Mitch speaks on troublesome topics plaguing his urban community and his life, while cleverly stating "If the money ain't the motive don't chase it. If the chick ain't a dime don't chase her". Basically stating if something in life isn't worth it, don't chase it (no chaser).Chaser's message could be broken down in two ways: 1. (the literal message) Mitch drinks to think differently about the same cold world that he is trying to escape from. 2. (from a more metaphorical approach) Mitch doesn't chase predetermined/detrimental stereotypes (no chasers, money ain't the motive), rather he alters the way he thinks (almost as if he were taking shots of consciousness) in order to free his people (enlightenment).
Chaser serves as a perfect intro, as it embodies Intoxicated Enlightenment as a project. He sets the tone early on for what's to come next. Now that he has taken enough shots, he is intoxicated enough to tell his tale.
...For me I personally turn to the intoxicants. And I have faith in my community. I have faith in our society but, when I get to that point of being overwhelmed, that's what I indulge in. And i'm allowing ya to hear my journey through that state of mind.
With that being said, whether it be drunken sips, toad licking, glue sniffs, lighting crack pipes, a needle fix (or whatever be Mitch's prefered choice of "intoxicants") we're given the thoughts and actions that go through his mind when he's under that state of mind. Subjects vary from somber moments in his life (Live a Little) to, something we've all probably fallen victim to, drunk texting (Drunken Text). Although there is vast difference in flow, concepts, sub-genres, emotions, etc., Mitch efficiently executes in every facet. I cannot stress enough that the storytelling, song structure, flow, and technicism of his lyrics contain such a vast improvement since his last project.
Released this January as our first official taste of Intoxicated Enlightenment, Mike Mitch tells a provocative, and hopefully fictional, story about being blackmailed after a booty call. Split Second truly highlights Mitch's storytelling abilities. As the plot thickens, the woman in the song threatens him with a rape charge and claims that they've conceived a child. All seems to be well though. In the next song, Jump (Slippin'), Mitch with such eloquence and poetic stance articulates with, "Fuck that bitch though, we out here". Check out the visuals filmed by his production company Limitless Imprint Ent.
More lyrically sound (from a technical standpoint) than Split Second, Nothing To Change has more of a conscious upbringing. Mike Mitch uses an unusual technique of incorporating a spoken word performance in the chorus, something I believe I haven't seen before. Written (the spoken word) by Mitch himself, his ability to experiment as such, proves to me that he has gotten better as a writer. He also channels more of an omniscient narrator, hoping to bring change in a forever-violent world. Considering, the ill things happening in the world today, Mitch (among other artists) combat with songs that provide people with hope. Check out the creative lyric video also created and edited by LIE.
Intoxicated Enlightenment is encompassed by beats from producers Live Bradshaw, Cler-Vision, DJ Brandeezie, Sha-Liek Tha Engineer, and Digital Dru. The instrumentals do a good job of complimenting Mitch's flow and concepts. As mentioned before, some of this album'sbeats rely on synthesizers and also rapid percussion (especially in high hats). This is done in order to fit the turn-up image (that usually occurs when "intoxicated") that Mitch was trying to convey most of the project. In a very trap-music style, songs like the first single Gilligan's Island and Black-Out urge you to gather the homies and channel your inner Sosa.
Although the turn-up was real, other songs contained a different stylistic approach. Take most songs produced by Sha-Liek Tha Engineer, for instance. These songs, based on soothing vocal samples, were at a slower tempo, more somber sounding, and tended to be less party and more conscious. Songs like Live A Little and Paper.
Speaking of beats that stand out, I couldn't finish this section without talking about my favorite instrumental on Intoxicated Enlightenment. The song Happy Hour, produced by Live Bradshaw, paints the image of a live band performing alongside Mike Mitch. The enchanting piano, amongst other things, sounds like live piano music you would hear during happy hour in a bar, ironically enough. The piano by itself sounds like would never fit in the standard 4/4 time (because of its rapid runs up and down the keys) but Live Bradshaw manages to add a easy-tempoed boom-clap drum beat and an angelic voice sample to make this mere obstacle sound heavenly. The efficient use of "ethnic instruments" (I believe he's using the bongos, tablas, and maracas) throughout the song also give it a much more relaxed and joyous vibe. It is also a big reason why Happy Hour has such a good chorus (one of the best and most tranquil on the album).
What would a great rap album be without climatic features ? It's hard to imagine Intoxicated Enlightenment without its guest appearances, considering that every rapper propelled each individual track to better heights. The song Justice League, for instance, featured phenomenal verses from close LIE collaborators KS, Shellz D, Live Bradshaw, Ave Campbell, and Mark Twayne.Twayne, alongside Mitch, released a collaborative project titled B.A.R.S. a year ago and has been dominating, to say it kindly, so far in the world of battle rap. Don't believe me just watch. His verse on Paper did well in setting the tone, in a song about artists' "releasement from these chains" by doing it "for the paper". KS who, released the 30-for-30 track recently, absolutely killed his verse on Justice League and the song King Arthur (in which the bar was already set high by an impressive verse from Mike Mitch). Both Live Bradshaw (in Sweeting Thing Ever) and Ave Campbell (in Gilligan's Island) do a great job in matching the song's vibe and style, along with meshing well with Mitch's verse. Not to mention Bradshaw on Justice League had one of the hardest lines on the album.
Proper grammar was never used for collateral cause feds still need the lower cases for the capital.
I was also surprised by two features. I've always known Dyani and Shakeil to be singers, that is until recently. Dyani did a great job in playing the "girl role" on the song Drunk Texting, displayingher rap skills well in the context of the song. Shakiel this past summer dropped his impressive 11236 EP and a music video for his single 236 Summer. To my surprise, most of the EP showcased Shakeil's rapping ability as did the song #Winning on Intoxicated Enlightenment. Some of his songs on the 11236 EP and #Winning show how well Shakeil could balance both rap realms of bragadocious/turn-up and socially conscious, like Mike Mitch. Rapper King Q also did well by matching Mitch's energy and delivered a well-spit, hyped, verse on Black-out, similar to Ave Campbell on Gilligan's Island.
Every facet on Intoxicated Enlightenment scream to me one simple thing...progression. Acts of an Upperclassmen was a good body of work but there was still some room for improvement, all of which Mitch must have taken into account when going into this project.
The bars were superb, first and foremost. I found myself questioning whether if Mitch truly got better lyrically or did the content quality effect his writing this time around. From punch lines to rhyme schemes, Mitch seemed to have a better grip of lyricism. From this, listeners received great song ideas that are both food-for-thought and enjoyable. One thing that is also important to mention is that Mike Mitch mixes his own work. The mixing aspect, to me, was the most drastic improvement. The vocals, most importantly, are generally alot clearer (as well as the beats). He also used the left and right channels more efficiently, as processed adlibs would take turns alternating in each ear...God bless stereo. These improvements, along with others, made the catchy songs mesh well together and provide a strong body of work meant to stand tall in today's times in rap music.
Intoxicated Enlightenment's concept really stood out to me.The multi-meaning rhetoric of seeing the world with a different pair of specs was enhanced in almost every song on the album, considering that each song has its own theme/plot. Whether it's displaying a swag-rap song or a socially conscious song, Intoxicated Enlightenment has it all. It has tracks that make you want to gather the masses to demand change and it also has tracks that make you want to round up your boys and keep it 300.
All in all, it looks like Mike Mitch, has his work cut out for him. It seems like he truly gets better as the years go bye. It's exciting to think where he can go from here because of the bar being set so high. I recommend this project to everybody, go and check it out, if you already haven't... http://www.datpiff.com/Mike-Mitch-Intoxicated-Enlightenment-mixtape.728613.html
Nice work, Mike.