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Music Review: A-1 – After School Special (2010) – Project-11
A-1’s After School Special is pretty weird for a hip-hop mixtape. Okay, it’s really weird for a hip-hop mixtape. This is a concept mixtape where A-1 is playing the role of a kid faking an illness so he could stay home from school, and the mixtape takes you through his day as he watches TV.
Since A-1 was born in the late 80s, he goes back to the shows that were on when he was a kid (the mid to late 90s) and samples a bunch of them for the songs on this mixtape. After each song you’ll hear static as if he’s flipping through channels and sometimes you’ll hear clips from commercials that played during this time. It’s a pretty nice touch.
Here’s the thing about this mixtape – not only does A-1 sample TV shows that were airing during the mid-late 90s, but he samples shows that you’d never expect to even hear referenced on a serious rap mixtape. To get an idea of what I’m talking about, he uses the Pokemon theme song, the Power Rangers theme, and the Price is Right theme for different tracks on this mixtape. Except for maybe MF Doom, I can’t think of any (serious) rappers who would even think about sampling any of those shows. It’s a very unique concept.
All of this probably comes off as a bit gimmicky, and if A-1 wasn’t that great of a rapper I’d definitely dismiss it as such. Here’s the thing though — A-1 is a really good rapper. His flow reminds me a bit of J. Cole‘s and his writing is really sharp.
Those looking for something different (and on the complete opposite side of the spectrum compared to the Tyler the Creator album I reviewed last week) should check this mixtape out. It’s a solid effort and if you’re the right age (late teens-twenties) then the nostalgia factor will probably make you appreciate it even more. Score: 7.75/10