Bicoastal producer Belief’s new album ‘Dedication’ is an expressive combination of street-smart lyrics with lighter beats, fusing two distinctly different rap worlds into one. Collaborating with longtime friends and underground artists Murs, C-Rayz, Vordul and Wordsworth from ‘The Lyricist Lounge Show,’ Belief’s debut album displays his skills as an instrumentalist and beatsmith while featuring star MCs from the world of underground rap.
Raised in Los Angeles during the early 1990s when hip-hop was finding its way out of the streets and into suburban culture, Belief grew up listening to underground DJs and rappers such as Living Legends and The Pharcyde. At 17 he relocated to New York to attend New York University and pursue his music career, listening to the East Coast sounds so he could seamlessly blend them with the sounds of the West Coast.
Now based in Brooklyn, Belief’s producing talents are evident. His music is underground by nature but with a dash of mainstream awareness.
It is obvious that Belief wants to enter the mainstream music market, as ‘Hot Nights’ sounds conventional and similar to rap lyrics heard on mainstream radio. The other songs on the album have more substance and consequently, more power behind them.
‘Getyourmindright’ is beautifully haunting in melody and lyrics: ‘Trust me / I’m gonna be home soon / Cuz the L.A. county ain’t got enough room.’
‘Justice’ slows down the tempo and shows a reggae influence. ‘The Fountainhead’ is the jewel of the album, with a provocative title and rhymes about hard living matched with a beat that is equal parts mellow and frenetic
But ‘Dedication’ evokes a sense of dirtiness mixed with ample soul. The beats really drive the album and showcase Belief’s talent the best. It is easy to imagine yourself driving through the streets of any big city, staring outside at the lights glowing in the rainy haze late at night coming home from a bar, relaxing and getting lost in the dark and distorted sounds of chopped guitars. It is this sense of bright lights and big city that makes Belief’s urban core work so well with the gritty lyrics. However, I can’t help but feel that some of those beats would be enhanced with rhymes to match.
Belief certainly has the potential to enter the mainstream rap business, but I’m hoping he doesn’t