REVIEW: L.e – The Anti-Parachute Theory

“I know I’m weird, but….”

I first became aware of the L.e in April of 2008 when Fly.Union dropped their first professional product, an EP titled “Kill Fly.U.”  To me, the highlight of what was an all-around stellar project was the single “Dumb Down” a vocal effort from L.e supported by some seriously thick, head-nod inducing production from Jay Swif.  Although Dumb Down left a little something to be desired content-wise, it was hypnotic, intriguing and hinted at an artist with depth.

In many ways, The Anti-Parachute Theory picks up where “Dumb Down” left off, in that L.e leads off with some songs meant to pull the casual listener in, before taking a gradual turn toward the trueschool and experimental sides of his skill set.  L.e is successful in meshing production and hooks that wouldn’t sound out of place on the radio or in the club with lyrics that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Lone Catalyst’s album.

The Intro – moody, sparse track that lacks, but doesn’t require drums. The song explains his reason for parting ways with Fly.Union and also positions L.e as a bit of an enigma. The end of song acts as a bridge transitioning into Bulldog BMX, a clever technique that recurs again later in the disc.

Bulldog BMX picks up the pace and is something of an anthem, with a catchy hook and well-done Rashad beat.  Think “Black Mags” by the Cool Kids, the difference here is the L.e doesn’t spend his verses talking about his bike.  If any formula can be derived from L.e’s efforts, it’s that he believes a great deal in solid beat selection and strong hooks, coercing the listener to stick around for the real meat of his songs – the verses.

The title track, Anti-parachute, is the projects’ crown jewel.  Here, Rashad delivers a great success of a beat, sampling the Beach Boys “I Wasn’t Made for These Times” for the hook.  The chorus compliments L.e’s positioning as an artist, and seemingly, a human.  The beat is haunting and memorable, while at the same time bouncy and hopeful.  This is a song that will be added to iPods and revisited.  A good song.

From the Midwest – revisits the sampled/repeated hook that has become a workable trend for artists of L.e’s ilk–that is, those that wish not to distance themselves from the mainstream, nor from the underground.  While this song isn’t amongst my favorites on the project, it’s also not skippable and serves as a precursor into another of the project’s highlights, “Polo on My Body,” a true and large anthem produced by fellow Columbus resident AU.

The music (interlude) at Track 6 features what seems to be a short response, possibly to an interview question, where L.e asserts that, “…at the end of the day, all that matters is your music.”  It seems like a very deliberate placement for such a comment, as L.e spends the remainder of the disc, seemingly, without much regard for the average rap fan, instead going hard after traditional fans of hip-hop (the 4-elements kind) and experimental/indie music.

The next pair of songs are remakes of Lykke Li’s “Until we Bleed” and MGMT’s “Kids” and give an indictation of how L.e’s style could translate outside of the hip-hop box into a crossover role.  He also showcases a seemingly wide-ranging appreciation and taste for music.

Holy Koran is as close as L.e comes to submitting a throwaway track.  Both the beat and the verses leave something to be desired–it’s song that’s proven expendable after repeat listens.  Still, on a 16 track effort, can’t we allow L.e a song or two off?  Thankfully, he only seemed to need one mulligan.

She and Her is a concept song where L.e is accompanied by Von Pea of Tonya Morgan and P. Blackk.  Here, each MC takes a turn explaining their struggles in balancing their relationships with hip-hop and real human females. A solid effort production and otherwise.

American Idol, produced by J. Rawls was a pleasant surprise for me.  The track finds an energetic L.e over a well-crafted Rawls beat.  The song serves as an introduction of sorts, with Rawls mentioning “he’s got a deal with this new dude…”  I was caught off guard to find these two, a bit of an unlikely pairing, working together.  L.e uses the end of American Idol to lead into the next song, spitting “I went to see the Oracle, this is what she say to me, you already know that I know that you’re the man to beat.”  Oracle is a fuzzy, rugged signature Blueprint track where L.e’s performance is solid but unspectacular.

His departure from Fly.Union may have left some with questions about what type of musical and production relationships L.e would forge.  Needless to say, Rashad, AU, Nicotine, J. Rawls and Blueprint are much more than sufficient in picking up the slack in the beat department.  Beyond their musical adequacies, these producers lend their credibility to the artist and the project.

Hometown is the final musical offering from The Anti-Parachute Theory and is a great end point.  Sampling Adele’s “Hometown Glory” for the hook, L.e stays on topic, discussing his hometown of Columbus, OH and stating that he doesn’t view himself as more important than any artist from his city, and that he would gladly collaborate with any willing artist, provided they support him, because as he says, “we’re all in this together, right?”

Click here to download The Anti-Parachute Theory

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