Big Mello was one of biggest names to ever churn out widely-accepted album releases during the late 90’s, and while he did spit some heavy Southside flows, “The Gift”—arguably his best foot forward—proved that Curtis Donnell Davis also had a slice of R&B groove in him.
Fast forward to today’s generation and we see that the art of combined rapping and singing has expanded beyond what the H-town legend had set in place. However, the agenda for his son Andrew Davis still held a hefty task, but it wasn’t just to fill the shoes of his father. Under the rapper name The Aspiring Me, the son of Hiram Clarke’s biggest advocate has made it an effort to go beyond what had been set in place for him. With his newly released self-titled album, the agenda already looks to be off on the right tone.
Hip-hop fans who are solely looking for an overreaching and delving message to satisfy their conscious rap needs should look elsewhere, as “The Aspiring Me” does not hold anything hugely deep outside themes pertaining to growth and making his father proud. The lyricism isn’t that complex, either, but that isn’t to say that the album is without charm or absent of the distinct sound usually found in most H-town rappers today. These attributes alone are what drives the energy and overall appeal.
There’s no denying that The Aspiring Me has too similar of a voice to his late father, and the sound reigns throughout the project. Take opener tracks like “Fast Livin” and “Young Bobby Bushido,” for example. Compounded with some simple, yet sonically dope production, TAM’s flows are always switching around; one minute he’ll go double time and the next he’ll come back on a smooth and steady pace with his verses, playing to his strength in having a versatile set of styles.
Though the rhymes in this album don’t hold the same impact as other prominent rappers, they definitely hold a great insight in TAM’s outlook on life and his experiences as an artist. The happy-go-lucky feel in “Easy to See” merits a must listen for it’s bright production, but the real pull of this song is the third verse in which TAM pays a small tribute to his father.
Speaking of, The Aspiring Me has also taken some hints from his father’s career regarding his triumphant R&B sound with the “P.M.M.” track featuring Lisa E. Harris. Though the production could add some color to the simple two-step drums and bass line, the jazzy track told the story of how a woman had motivated him to reach outside “a crowd of failures” after dropping out of college and take the SAT test, in which his high score on that test allowed him to be accepted at a university.
Other tracks like “Round Here,” “Sleep Come Easy” and “Going…going…gone” are also splendid efforts on the self-titled project, especially the second with the Mary J. Blige sample in the beat. However, these tracks can sound the same even when you’re kind of paying attention. The lyrics, which sport a self-righteous tones and topics of perseverance in life as well as the rap game, can get a little boring at times. It wouldn’t be too surprising to find listeners tuning out after a couple of listens. The songs aren’t bad; they’re enjoyable as they offer a bevy full of whip bumping bangers. Outside of that, The Aspiring Me album can be repetitive and, dare I say, uninspiring at times. The recurring messages can drag on and it can be a lacking for some hip-hop fans searching for something a bit more extensive.
Regardless, the self-titled spectacle is one for the books and should deservingly sit right beside Big Melo’s best releases of the early days. The album is every bit of “Bone Hard Zaggin” and “Wegonefunkwichamind” all mixed in a melting pot, but a touch of today’s spice—more specifically his son’s peppery wordplay and ear for beats—makes it all the better. “The Aspiring Me” is a great album to put on and jam out to in the car, and if Big Melo were still alive today, he’d probably bump it in his ride, albeit more than anyone else.
BY: Bryan Dupont-Gray