Vibe to Vibes
Review Overview: Theophilus London brings to the table a unique style. Overall score: 5/10 Vibes is Theophilus London’s sophomore effort and was released on October 24th, 2014. Kanye West, whom London has described as a huge influence in both his personal life and his music, executively produced the album after he personally invited London over to his studio in Paris. The album itself is hard to categorize – there are bits of rap, funk, soul, and R&B all present, and it leaves the listener a bit at a loss in understanding who Theophilus London really is as an artist. This lack of identity and character is arguably the biggest downfall of the album.
5/5 –You should get this song
“Water Me (feat. Leon Ware)” 4/5
This track is undoubtedly funky. With sharp drums, a jazzy piano, and a thumping bass, you cannot help but feel the groove. Theophilus London provides some spacy-sounding vocals, adding to the general funk feeling. Overall this is a strong track to start off the album, one that does a great job of letting the listener know what he or she can expect for the rest of the songs.
“Neu Law” 3/5
Theophilus London delivers his vocals through a heavily filtered microphone over a simple drumbeat and a menacingly strumming guitar. This song, like the previous one, oozes of funk, or something like it. Truth be told, London’s songs are pretty hard to classify in a genre. His mixture of rap, funk, and soul all lead to the creation of a truly distinct style. Either you love it or you hate it.
“Take and Look” 3/5
A distorted synth provides the listeners with the main melody that is then accompanied by the drums that are characteristic of this song. The lyrics “let me see your body/ I want to swim on some honey” give a pretty good idea of what the song is about. Yet again, overall it is a pretty weird sound that is undeniably cool.
“Can’t Stop (feat. Kanye West)” 5/5
The “best track on the album” award without a doubt goes to this one. Kanye West spits a very honest verse, touching on topics such as plastic surgery, his “It ain’t Ralph though!” spiel, and the expensiveness of designer clothes. The verse is as old school Kanye as it gets, which is exciting considering that this is the newest track we have featuring the prolific artist since Yeezus. Besides Kanye, the actual beat is fantastic as well. The finger snapping and the piano compliment each other superbly, and the hook provided by London adds just a hint of soul.
“Get Me Right” 3/5
Theophilus London turns it up a notch with a fast beat and an uplifting melody. He layers his vocals in the hook for a more spacious effect, and we actually hear something from him that could be considered rapping. It certainly isn’t the traditional sense of the word, but rather more of a singing-rapping kind of thing. If I had to make a comparison, I would definitely say he sounds a little bit like Kid Cudi.
In this song you cannot deny that he sounds a lot like Kid Cudi. He alternates between a deep voice and a normal sounding one, the latter of which sounds remarkably like Mr. Rager. The deeper voice brings in the unmistakable taste of funk that is present in all of his songs, and in general it is a bass heavy melody.
“Do Girls” 4/5
The “second best track on the album” award will have to go to this track. The guitar that fuels the melody in the song is brilliantly mastered with a slowly attacking filter envelope, and the hook works really well. By the end of the song you can’t help but sing along, “she says she only do girls…” London raps a bit in the song, and this time you can feel his own style in the words. As a solo effort, this song showcases London’s talent better than any other track on Vibes. I was really torn on whether to give the song a four or a five, but at the end of the day I feel like it is just not of the same caliber as Don’t Stop.
“Tribe (feat. Jesse Boykins III)” 3/5
The best part about the song is the refrain. As Theophilus London sings “so long,” you can hear a woman chanting in the background. Added to the energetic drums is a bit of Eastern flare. With this influence, the different elements all come together nicely. Definitely the weak part of the song is when London starts rapping and the beat changes to a more barebones version that somehow seems off to the ear. Check out the music video:
“Smoke [Interlude] (feat. Soko)” 3/5
Although it is only an interlude, this is still a great song. The tempo is dialed down a notch as Soko and London lull the track over with soft vocals. This is a song that you could fall asleep to, and I mean that in a good way. My only complaint is that I wish it were a little bit longer.
“Smoke Dancehall” 2/5
In this track, Theophilus London sings with an accent reminiscent of West Africa. There’s a female voice in the background aiding London along, but for the most part this is a pretty boring song.
“Need Somebody (feat. Leone Ware)” 3/5
Theophilus London switches it up again with a more uplifting melody. He sings “girl you’re gonna need somebody” in that difficult-to-pinpoint style of his over funky bass and drums. The song is good, but it does not stand out too distinctly. It may be the case that this far deep into the album and some of the songs have started to sound the same. The funk and soul presence is there like always, and London’s voice is leading, like always.
“Figure It Out (feat. Devonte Hynes & the Force MD’s)” 4/5
This track is actually a bonus track on the album, and it’s a pretty good one. It definitely fits more under the R&B category thanks to the super smooth vocals provided by the features. Also, the beat itself falls completely into the R&B genre. London puts together one of his better raps as well, making for a good outro to the album. It is an enjoyable song that ends the album on a positive note.
[image source: Wikipedia]