For his fourth release, gifted Bronx artist Chazmere decided to explore live instrumentation at a higher rate than ever before. His previous albums boasted pockets of live instrumentation, but •FELT•, is an album where the live play is foundational. The results are stunning. Chazmere calls the album an “aural calm in a visual storm,” which is a testament to the oft-traumatic media so many of us are overexposed to. He stays true to that premise by crafting a smooth, arresting soundscape expertly coalescing elements of hip-hop, soul, electronic, jazz and more.
“SIMPLE • THINGS ” for instance is an elegant sample of Justin Timberlake’s “Senorita” reimagined into a lush ode to small –risky– joys like “swipin EBT for the hot food,” where the MC/singer employs a melodic flow. “CROWDED • ROOMS (Parts I & II)” is an upbeat composition in which Chazmere fuses two sonic pallettes and paints a picture of the unforgettable late nights he’s been experiencing. The horn play that takes over the second half of the track is one of the highlights of the album along with “HEARTS•CLUBS•DIAMONDS,” where Taylor Simone sings over gorgeous, jazzy sonics.
The album is largely composed of instrumental highlights – especially in the first half of the project — which makes the listener at times miss Chazmere as the orator. On “Summer Velvet,” he skillfully chops up a song with considerable Latin flavor. While the track exists well as is, it would have also been well-served by bars, his soulful vocals, or both.
This observation isn’t meant to marginalize his artistic intent, but more to exemplify how desirable of a vocalist that he is. When he’s on the mic he commands it. His storytelling ability and witticisms shine whenever he vocalizes on the nine-track project. As a lyricist, he excels at using glimpses of his life to serve as a vessel for larger commentary, such as “my queen half-honey, half-cajun, half-black, half-amazin’” line and the following “f*ck the races” ad-lib on “•BETTER•”.
From the end of “SIMPLE • THINGS,” which is ripe for singalong at a live show to “PLEASE•GOD•HELP•ME,” which is an energetic dancefloor vibe, Chazmere covers seemingly every base. He meant for the album to be a safe space, and in the myriad moods explored, it’s just that. He clearly felt a lot, and we appreciate the transference of emotion.
You can stream •FELT• below: