Mixtape Review: #NoDaysOff – The ‘U’
Penn State graduate The ‘U’ released a mixtape titled #NoDaysOff last week. I listened to this mixtape in full as a long time hip-hop head. Before you dismiss me as some hipster (I am), know that I can elaborate in great detail on the different styles of Big Pun, Big L, and Biggie Smalls. Now that credibility is out of the way, on to the actual music.
This is the first time I have ever heard this rapper. After giving it a solid listen, the general theme of the mixtape is that The ‘U’ likes to smoke weed and brag. He displays some creativity in the obligatory ode to weed song, “Watch Tower”, where producer Oren Spiegel samples the iconic Jimi Hendrix song over some very smooth drum loops.
Which brings me to the next point: It wouldn’t be fair to talk about this mixtape without talking about the amazing production. It felt like a battle was going on between the two most-featured producers, Killa Kake and Oren Spiegel. Oren’s trademark is original and complex drum riffs to accompany his melodies. Kake is a gifted sampler, and can really create a memorable feel within a song. Oren is more consistent, but Kake’s potential might be higher. He is nothing short of professional when his choices fit together, and can bear a striking resemblance to Dilla or DOOM.
There are at least three vocal styles coming out over the course of the songs. In some tracks, like “What U Wanna Hear” and “Nothin on Me”, the ‘U’ sounded a lot like Kid Cudi. He showcased a completely different style on the song “59/50“, where he adopts a faster delivery, which I prefer. “On My Mind“ was my favorite lyrical display on the mixtape. In a few cases, it seemed like he was trying to fit too many words in the beat. A couple songs were downright inspirational, like “For the Good Fight (SuperHero Music)”, which featured some relevant name drops like, “Let me vent, I’m just sayin/ music is my Lois Lane”.
Overall, the tape showed some potential, but also room for improvement. I have to say I was disappointed with the general simplicity of the rhyme structure. The best thing about this tape is the beats, and on the few songs where beats and vocals come together (“War Jazz”) there is a lot of promise. My opinion is that The ‘U’ needs to work on his delivery and editing skills in order to stand out as a developing rapper. That being said, this mixtape features more than a couple styles that will cater to a variety of tastes. Anyone who listens to rap will be able to find at least one song to throw in rotation.