What might be most important to know when getting ready to listen to Count Bass D‘s L7 is that most of the knowledge one has about Hip Hop in its current state should be thrown out the window. While for many 808’s and Heartbreak [click to read] pushed the creative envelope in 2008, L7 still finds itself on a creative plateau of its own. Presenting an artful, hybrid sound that blends elements of Jazz, Soul, Spoken Word and Rap, Count Bass D put together a compilation of tracks unlike anything heard in a long while. The result of this sound, however, can be a residual feeling of confusion and being overwhelmed, which will likely only be amplified for those new to Count Bass D. Spending his childhood playing musical instruments in a church setting, the Nashville-based artist would grow up to eventually release a whole album (Pre-Life Crisis) consisting of live instrumentation mostly done on his own. It only makes sense that you end up remembering the instrumentation more than his words, so be warned that L7 is not the place to look if you want something to sing along to. This rare talent with instrumentation and production earned him an impressive list of production credits, including artists such as MF DOOM.
On the Count‘s latest solo project, what becomes quickly apparent is that the instrumentals are holding down the lead role. At times the instrumentals become so unique and abstract that they overshadow the minimal amount of lyrics contained on certain tracks. By the end of the third song, “Back Pay (Parts 1 and 2),” the listener might even reach the point where they completely forget they heard anyone’s voice on the album at all. However, if Count Bass D‘s musical background is taken into account, this is completely understandable.
What is certain, though, is that this album requires an open mind. Standouts such as “I Need Your Love” and “Neon Soul” may easily catch the audience’s attention, but if one is used to songs structured with verses, choruses, and hooks, then the majority of L7 will require some reformation of how they process the music that they hear. “I Need Your Love” is a bass-heavy track with a 1980s-type bounce to it where Count Bass D lays down a few characteristics of a woman that make him desire her love, that if listened to long enough could give off an urge to dance and have some fun. Although this particular song is fairly easy listening, much of the album requires a higher level of concentration than one might be looking for if they are searching for an album to listen to simply to pass the time.
Count Bass D sings, raps, plays instruments, makes beats, and is essentially a one-man musical army. The only problem with this is that the final product doesn’t always seem to make sense. At times when a track finally begins to vibe and sound cohesive, the short length of some of the songs suddenly grabs the cohesiveness back and hits the listener’s brain with more puzzling sounds again on the next track. The intricacies of the melodic backdrops to Count Bass D‘s minimalistic, at times Spoken Word style lyrics may be reminiscent of a Hip Hop masterpiece to serious musicians, but L7 is certainly not an album suited for everybody. Perhaps the album combined abstraction with a little too much introspectiveness for the average hip hop fan who is looking for an album to casually listen to for pleasure.