Have you been captivated by the sound of someone else? Within minutes their words, the embers of their voice are intertwined with your thoughts? It is a rare occurrence, but the feeling is mind-blowing. It is where you are plunged into the middle of someone else’s dreams with the intention of experiencing their story instead of watching it from afar. Shakespear has somehow found his own niche in creating this kind of atmosphere for his audience with his third mixtape, Beatrice Collins.
This body of work s simultaneously cohesive but also indicative of the various types of sound the artist is attracted to as a rapper and a listener of music. It begins with the voice of his grandmother on “In Due Time”. Through her peaceful words, she reminds him of her unconditional love and support before it is soon surrounded with his R&B-like voice singing. It appears to be less of the stereotypical introduction and instead mirrors a sincere sound from the heart as organ-like notes play as a backdrop.
He continues to reflect on his own hurdles he overcame to get to this very moment on “Lyrical Exercise”. The beat was a tad distracting at first but with his distinct flow and absence of a hook, it became lyrically sound (hint the name). There are no ad-libs, no extra effects, just him and his bars one after another in a seemingly alphabetical order.
With the spirit of Mandela, I spit my life behind bars.
But as you begin to rock with his unique sound, you are pulled into “Live”, the next track on Beatrice Collins. Similar to the first track with his modest signing throughout the song, his ability to tell a story begins to heighten. You take a break for a second because you are starting to see just exactly what he’s trying to provide for the listener. Forget speaking to an audience, his story targets the soul of each individual.
He continues with his own personal story on “Tomorrow” which features Gunna Rothschild. You are then in the deep end of his biography, “I’m just a kid from the DYFS System, that won’t sit here and play a righteous victim.
“Friend Zone” is where he begins to bring you into the current more, it is the peak of the mixtape in my opinion. You can’t miss the “chivalry” clip he used from an episode of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in the beginning, making you chuckle thinking of actor Will Smith’s comedic demeanor. He ties in a vintage show with this generational term to keep you enjoying the music.
His grandmother’s voice makes another appearance on the next track, “Dear Lisa” where she brings up a crush or first love he had when he was younger. Piano keys hit high notes behind her voice, you drift to a place remembering your own grandmother’s voice in your head. I appreciated his rhyme scheme in this song and as the snares kick up before the first hook, you feel the ultimate build up before it even gets started.
“For You” is up next and if you don’t first realize the classic sound of the artist singing, it is Erykah Badu. Sampling her song, “Out My Mind, Just In Time”, it is a great transition into the way he revitalizes this R&B queen’s sound, using her voice even behind his own making for a nice arrangement. He remakes the sound into his own, but making sure as to not take away from Ms. Badu. He then uses artists Nameliss and Ashley B on his next track, “Entourage”. It is by far my favorite track as I am most attracted to the production and how the features intertwine with his lyricism.
Another break in the flow of the music, “Insecurities” is the wake up track of this entire mixtape. The slow start before the beat drops aligns perfectly with the build up of the song itself. Talking about the struggles he or others endure somehow took me back to 2006 when Ludacris and Mary J. Blige dropped “Runaway Love”. The subject matter may not be the same, but the knowledge behind the track is key when discussing conscious hip-hop and maybe the lack thereof. I couldn’t help but think of the feel good music that I fell so head over heels for, that would pull your pysche out of the chair and into the current wonders of the world.
“Who Dat”, while cool for what it is, didn’t really fit well with the rest of the tracks. There were a few dope lines but overall wasn’t memorable. “Life Of An Alcoholic” serves as the track that includes a multitude of metaphors to leave you wondering the various meanings that lie behind it. There are some moments of the song that come off as sensual but the name of the song reminds you about this addiction, or even the attraction to alcohol itself he has or recognizes.
He works with Bucket Baby on “Embody” to bring everything to a close. It was a perfect way to loop the entire mixtape ending with a voicemail message that was left for his grandmother. It served its purpose as a song of reflection and completion, reversing what occurred during the first track. Some artists, even the mainstream ones, have not mastered the way to end a project but Shakespear shows that much thought was placed in the arrangement of songs and the inclusion of featured artists.
The essence of Beatrice Collins is beautifully done. While some tracks stayed with me more than others, I walked away from it as if I had put down an autobiography. As if I had read someone’s story from cover to cover, being more in tune with who they are than I ever was. He tapped into the background of hip-hop and more importantly what music is. It is the way we tell stories, our stories, and his is worth every word.