“I did it for you.”
That’s how the magnificence of The Mad Writer takes over. The rest of “First Person” echoes with soothing crooning, random bits of words from faceless people, and bumping beats of jazzy excellence. That is the first two minutes of a game-changer.
L’Orange is a mystical character who remains anonymous. His work includes a large, conceptual love letter to Billie Holliday, his muse. Everything about his music is stemmed from the jazzy blues of her voice. His Old Soul work is what is being referred to. The other effort he created is an “EP” (it’s actually pretty long for an EP) of more conceptual work, based on love, titled The Manipulation. These previous two are more embryonic in nature, showing the vulnerable side.
The Mad Writer shows his side of cunning, expertise, and brilliance. It creates a large atmosphere of samples from 40’s and 50’s records, sampled directly from the vinyls. Throw some dope beats and link together the concept idea of each song, and you’ve got this album. Every once in awhile, a featured vocalist will come in and shine in the dank, dark spotlight that is the solid melancholy note of The Mad Writer. The album isn’t sad, it just has a depressing air to it. This is the winning formula of putting it together, but the puzzle is much, much, much more complicated and intense. The sheer talent of the production of L’Orange is mind-blowing. The crackles in “The Quiet Room” echo this sentiment very well. It adds a dynamic that is original, unique, and interesting. It completely compliments this album’s mood, texture, and tone.
L’Orange’s Alone (feat. Blu)
“Speakeasy” with its thunderous booms that detonate among the whooshing of percussion between a light string section is something to marvel upon. Imagine trying to find the needle in the haystack, but doing it several times in a row with success. Every little sample, beat, and rap in “Alone” is top-notch. Blu, one of the featured rappers, intensely spits beautifully crafted words in segments of thirty seconds, commanding attention and immersion. Crazy-weird chipmunk tunings from the get go on “Imaginary Friends” bounce with the jangly percussion and seemingly Santana’esque guitar.
“Nostalgia” starts off with a semi-dreamy tone and breaks with the percussion and you can’t but “feel the melody”. Back and forth, the “dream” carries on and is one of the brighter moments. But with that broken voice, you can’t help but feel he might be delusional. “A Nice Peaceful Scene” creates a nice atmosphere with a ear-worming, catchy piano melody that is just to die for. It jumps around and slows down and picks right back up, just like a proper addictive melody should. Towards the end the volume drops and picks back up – a really interesting bit that just makes L’Orange so versatile and attentive.
L’Orange’s The Mad Writer (feat. yU)
The bluesy, hazy vocals of Erica Lane on “Femme Fatale” have to be the most seductive vocals in recent memory. One can’t help but feel she’s in a bar, singing on stage, walking right up to me with googly eyes. It’s something you can’t make up but feel. Her vocals swoove and juke around your heart and crush you. Perfect for “Femme Fatale”. The sound behind her vocals are just as seductive. So sleazy, sexy, and alluring. “We Call It Despair” features one of the best beats on the album, that drops and ascends so perfectly. The music accompanies a ridiculous amount of Billie Holliday samples from what has to be the most various recordings.
“The Real McCoy” is a really interesting track. Rather than really letting the samples shine, L’Orange blares them through a megaphone and then changes immediately with insane wordplay. Has-Lo owns this track with deadly precision.”The Dust Collector” and “Stranger Days” end the track with atmospheric accuracy.
Now, if you’ve got a track listing, you’ll notice I forgot the title track. This one shines above the rest – it has its own level of greatness. (to this author it’s well-deserving of a 2012 Song of the Year nod.) With jaw-dropping rhymes, freaky wordplay, and glorious delivery, yU flies above the mark with L’Orange and nails the large quantity of words, to the tee. The beat is deliciously addictive, with a spice added here and there for creativity’s sake. The beat feels so natural to bob to and dive in. It’s so chill, yet intense. It’s simple, yet complex. It’s a conundrum.
With everyone of these conceptually-binded songs, L’Orange creates an album that doesn’t exceed 34 minutes and each song doesn’t exceed 3:08. An album with this format hasn’t shell-shocked me since Revolver. Every beat, niche, and noise keeps you into the mix of hazy, nostalgic jazz-infused hip-hop. Only four songs feature vocals and each one are dynamite in their own way – yU, for his commanding delivery; Blu, for his storytelling knack; Erica Lane, for her sultry vocals to fawn over; and Has-Lo, for his complex wordplay. L’Orange’s production is on the nail every time, it never hits your thumb and frustrates the hell out of you. It’s smooth and comes naturally. Let the nature flow over you. Immerse yourself in The Mad Writer.
Written by Dylan Tracy
OurVinyl | Contributor