Souleye – Wildman
Souleye has built an impressive discography since his debut in the early years of the 21st century and whatever legacy he has fostered rests on the back of his deft lyrical abilities, the talent he has for conveying an idiosyncratic message quite unlike anyone else in hip hop, and the skill he exhibits for surrounding those messages with evocative musical trappings. The recently released single “Wildman” is the title track to his newest album and amply demonstrates Souleye is far from a finished product – this is an artist in motion, always honing and further developing his craft. This single is one of Souleye’s most impressive stand alone releases and, even divorced from the remainder of the album that is soon-to-be released; it carries the weight of an all-encompassing personal statement. The production highlights its many strengths and maintains a clearly defined balance between its different sonic elements, but make no mistake – Souleye is the beating heart of this piece and fills it with the irresistible force of his intelligence, experience, and personality.
There’s a lot of lyrical material here to digest. Souleye’s “Wildman” makes excellent use of simile, metaphor, and speaks with a consistently coherent voice. Sharing the lyric with second vocalist Lynx adds different colors to the performance it would otherwise lack and the balance of delicacy and power is a good match for the passages guided by her singing. There’s no excess verbiage and the locked down focus Souleye’s writing brings to the subject matter helps listeners connect with the song in a much more visceral fashion. Souleye has long since mastered the fundamentals of being a hip hop vocalist, but he’s always stood out from the pack thanks to the remarkable emotive edges he brings to his style and, as such, Lynx’s classic R&B tone makes for a great match with him. Guest shot spots like this always carry a degree of risk, but Souleye and Lynx are good together.
The way the arrangement alternates between dense, nimble-footed hip hop shuffle and quasi ethereal synth-laden flourishes. It matches up well with the contrasting vocal presentation and the moods of each component thread together in a seamless way. The production has obviously aimed to maintain the most rewarding balance possible between the voices and instruments Souleye has brought together for this outing. They do an exemplary job; it has an unified sound that gives it a confident, assertive air. The movement between the song passages is carried off without a hiccup – this isn’t a case of a writer attempting to merge disparate, half-finished tracks into something resembling a sensible whole. “Wildman” sounds like it sprouted out of his forehead full born and have the sort of loose swagger that makes this music more memorable for some. There are few addressing that portion of hip hop fans better and more ambitious than Souleye and this title cut from his upcoming album makes a case it may be his best release to this point.