Album review: Kingpen Slim, "The Beam Up 2"
By David Malitz
There are generally two basic paths a rapper can take on a mix tape - focus on a specific aesthetic or tackle a wide-ranging group of sounds and themes. Kingpen Slim, yet another promising voice in the emerging DMV hip-hop underground, opts for the latter on his latest free offering and it hints at the bright possibilities for his future.
"The Beam Up 2" finds Slim toggling between soulful, R&B-infused tunes, straightforward club tracks and more old-fashioned street raps. His success rate is solid, and even when there's a clunker (the dance hall-based "21 Gun Salute" is the most obvious offender) it feels less like failed pandering and more like a young artist simply overflowing with ideas and trying to bring them to life.
At this point Slim is more engaging as a vocalist than a lyricist, but that's not a real slight. He's big on enunciation and cadence, sporting a clear, unhurried delivery that gives care to each syllable and an authority to sometimes pedestrian rhymes. His selection of backing tracks is similarly unobtrusive; the simple-yet-sinister bass blasts of "Gone" and the go-go flecked beats of "We Here Now" are easy to enjoy.
The tape's centerpiece is clearly "My Life Is a Movie," an autobiographical story-song built on retro R&B samples that neatly ebb and flow in unison with Slim's tales of street redemption. His personality shines through strongest on this track and also on "The Way You Move," which features fellow locals Wale and Phil Ade and is yet another example of the city's deep talent pool.
Recommended tracks: "My Life Is a Movie," "Gone," "The Way You Move"