Here's the first installment, courtesy of yours truly. Get to the end for the free music, too.
Andalè: Trial By Fire
About two years ago a young buck from the 615 dropped his sophomore release. Now I hadn’t heard about Andalè or Trial By Fire until just a few weeks back; but like all those endless incremental software updates, TBF has been wearing out my iPod on a near-daily basis ever since.
Far as I know, Andale is his early 20s, but brings it like 30-year old vet. Swagger, pinpoint mic skills, lyrics, thick concepts… it’s all there. Vocally dude reminds me of a young Ludacris in the way he brings that same ear for hooks, catchy rhyme schemes, and club rockin rhythms. But I don’t think that even Mr. Bridges ever dropped a full-length quite as conceptually cohesive as Trial By Fire.
TBT sets up with a gospel-tinged sing-songy intro… A Curtis Mayfield-esque vibe laces the story of a young gun Andale’ giving up street life for a head0first dive into higher calling; but the change comes with the caveat that it’ll be harder than hard—a trial by fire, if you will.
The album is the journey of a young man trying to walk the straight and narrow and live righteous in a world of temptations, egos, set-ups and setbacks, doubts and haters, not unlike something you’d get from Cee-lo or ‘Kast or 'Face or Mr. Carter, even.
But when opening salvo is, “the mouthpiece of the south/reppin’ Hov minus reasonable doubt/sweatin’ like fiends with the police in they house," on the upfront “Do Me” you know the kid’s out to walk a tightrope for you. And lines like "Pray for me if you gotta mention my name/otherwise please get in your lane, just lemme do me." tells you the fight is internal and external.
And you gotta hear “Ride Out” because I don’t know that any song as ever made celibacy sound as tempting and rationale as nailing everything moving does. Andale periodically snitches on his swagger with punchlines like “Feelin’ so fly in my three piece suit which is really my special occasion repeat suit.” (C'mon, you know that one was funny.)
Other standout tracks include smart introspective cuts like, “Smile,” and "Don't Cry" either of which could've came out the vaults of a Facemob and Bone Thugs 'n' Harmony (circa late 90s) session.
But my favorite joint off TBT might be “Fly” which totally caught me off guard when I first heard it. The soul claps and rising falsettos have you floatin' almost from jump. It takes real craftsmanship to mix everyday blue-collar struggles, grown-man doubts with hood conflicts without sounding corny or overly backpacker-ish. But lè pulls it off.
“I and Him” is a back-n-forth rhyme scheme horn-n-snap-filled stomper about Andale’s past struggles to balance ego with purpose, talent with focus. If you can stop dancing long enough to listen to the words, it’ll remind you that dude’s a hellacious storyteller.
Overall, Trial By Fire passes the test in spades. (And by the way, I'm not sure who his producers are but the beats are lava.)
Here’s a couple cuts for you to get loose on. Lemme know what you think.