by Jeff Milo
A Toast. Cheers. “Salud / Celebrating like we got it all” –
“Salud.” That’s where Kopelli leaves us, as his debut solo album’s closing ballad unwinds, “Celebrating like we got it all.” That mentality, celebration of self and of one’s support network despite life’s inevitable hard knocks, dominates this local rapper's solo debut. Healthy measures of merriment and playful flirtations are sobered by more somber meditations. Having written, recorded and performed with local rap quartet Cold Men Young for several years, Kopelli has already found his voice, so he’s freed to be as blunt, playful, coy or caustic as he likes.
At one instant, it soars with a more pop-inclined Pharrell-influence (on the charging march of “Let Em Know,” with its flexing synths and defiant mantras, nicely toeing the line between swagger and sincere). But “Salud” shows a darker, contemplative side (like a Common or Mos Def influence). Following local artists like James Linck and Jamaican Queens (who both blend heavy daps of electronica onto their unique skews of hip-hop and R&B), Kopelli thrives amid buoyant beats and banging bass, displaying an ear for indelible hooks and provocative lyricism, a nimble cadence dances amid shades of strange-sounding synths and eerier-toned modulations. Cameos abound: Mister (from Passalacqua), Jade Lathan (from Lord Scrummage) and his CMY allies Mic Write and Mic Phelps. J Norm, the Olympicks and Doc Illingsworth had hands (and ears) in/on the production. Release party forthcoming ...
Kopelli will release Gentleman Jack on Feb. 4 at the Grasshopper Underground in Ferndale (22757 Woodward Ave ) with Mic Write, Mic Phelps and Passalacqua. 8pm – FREE – more info: thegrasshopperunderground.com.