Editor’s Album Review: Mob Life The Mixtape
403 Productions have been on my radar for years now. I’ve seen 403 Mob perform at small venues, large venues and even some holes in the wall you’ve never heard of. Since then, I’ve been waiting for a chance to really give my readers a taste of what this label cranks out. This release, Mob Life The Mixtape, is being released today (on 4/03, at 4:03), and I got an exclusive sneak-peek to help you all get amped.
This 17-track release features nearly every artist on the label, providing an obscenely-diverse group of genres, while retaining the vision of one label. I’ve always had trouble identifying genres in their minutia, but one of the main men behind the projects, Ghost Unknown, gave me the run-down:
“It took [five] years to fully record this album along with collaborations from artists all over the musical spectrum. From Hip Hop to Horrorcore, Metal to Pop, Rock to RNB, and finishing out with Opera.”
Before we get to the nuts and bolts of the operation, let me tell you my thoughts on the release and point out my own personal favorite tracks.
You may be surprised but, for once, I was handed a mixtape which really opens with a punch. Mob Life featuring Otis of AMB dropped the beat and kept some serious momentum. During my listening party, I had to make sure I didn’t put things on shuffle, that’s how surprised I was about this opening track. (I did worry, though, that things would go downhill, but I was happily surprised.)
This track opens up with a taste of what drew me to 403 Productions in the first place: Ghost Unknown’s flow. Some people have speed, and some people have wit; Ghost has an ability to really sink his teeth into the beat with some witty, spitty rhymes.
As I mentioned before, the mixtape retained its momentum; as track two hits (Stomp N Clap) I was reminded of the simplicity in modern hip-hop that is needed to really showcase any rap involved. I imagine this would hit the crowd, get people moving and beer spilling while everyone stomps and claps. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the crowd getting a bit messy during 403 MOB sets. Some of the more wiley crowds may be intimate, but 403 brings out the shameless, passionate fun that we all go to shows for.
If you have never taken on the task of being both a live and recording artist, you’ll never really understand the difference. I’ll admit, I’ve only ever rapped when drunk, and anything I’ve recorded will never see the light of day, but there’s a big difference, from what I can tell. This rule isn’t only true for the performers, but for the audience. We’ve all been in the boat where we love a band on CD only to see them live and want a refund. The 403 crew is one of the exceptions. Recorded, they’re becoming more and more polished, with the knacks of Jager Gestson at OverFlow Studios and Ghost Unknown at Killaz Paradise.
403 Productions has driven themselves for years, internally. Now, I won’t pretend that I’m in love with every single track on this mixtape, but when’s the last time you listened to a label’s sampling and loved every style they had to put out? Sure, I’m talking them up, but I’m talking them up for the numerous things they’re doing right.
This album was recorded five or so years ago, and is finally being mastered and polished. That being said, if you listen to the other recent releases from 403 MOB, you’ll see just how vastly they’ve grown in the past years, lyrically and stylistically. It takes balls to reveal where you once were as an artist, especially when you have grown and changed. Now, on to track eight.
“Do What I Want featuring Tiny Tim” is probably my favorite song on this entire mixtape. The sampling of Tiny Tim is something that almost creeps me out, as with many things I really enjoy. This song is nearly anecdotal in nature, while also portraying the autobiography of Ghost Unknown alter-ego.
Throughout the mixtape, you’ll notice samples and mixes that seem to be telling a story that is more fully revealed in further listenings. “Your wifey loves you, but she cheats you, you’ll cry like a bitch when she leaves you,” this sampling from the song “Love Hurts featuring BAMbam” really exemplifies how the artists play off of samples.
In this song they utilize samples of a domestic abuse help group session. I find this unique, and respectable in the realm of hip-hop (considering that Snoop Dogg has a song from The Blue Carpet Treatment which suggests and explains how to prevent the repercussions of your domestic fist-kisses).
The closing track reminds me just how far we’ve come. By that I mean in rap, in the local scene, in the growth of 403 and how this mixtape carries us from the fun, to real shit. It samples from “We’re in The Same Gang” from the West Coast All-stars, but in a context that refreshes the sort of corny PSA of the early ‘90s, and reminds us that violence isn’t the best solution.
Mob Life The Mixtape features a multitude of local artists (and beyond), some of which I wouldn’t have just discovered on my own, but who 403 Productions allowed to shine: Axe Murder Boyz, Capital Chris, Marshall Alexander, Dan Royer of Scapegoat/Pain After Death, Krimenl, Tiny Tim, BAMbam The Voodoo Chi7d, Mister KA, Matt Dean of Chapel Grove, Tori EDB, F.Dux and RunaeMoon.
To satiate my curiosity for what’s in store for 403 Productions, Ghost Unknown had this to say:
“We are currently working on our next studio album titled “7Feet Deep” scheduled for an August 30th release and I am also working on finishing a Horrorcore project titled “#RealWickedShit” with BAMbam The Voodoo Chi7d scheduled for an October 31st release. And for 2016 I am working on a 4-disc solo project titled “Into The Minds Eye” that has not yet received a release date.”
If you haven’t caught on by now, I’m very excited to hear about “Into The Minds Eye.” We’ll be here, ears open, 403 Productions.
To download the new Mob Life The Mixtape visit 403mob.bandcamp.com