“I was making music that could be placed in several genres,” says Trew Music of his latest mixtape “[…] so I put together The James Crockett Experience to show that I could do more than one thing.” It’s fitting that I asked the thirty-year-old Centreville, Va native of the inspiration behind his most-recent creation, for it appears that he stays true to himself rather than remaining chained to one particular sound…Even if that means talking about his skills with the opposite sex and that his new ish is Captain Morgan mixed with Dr. Pepper paired with a Black N’ Mild.
Airy strings and the subtle boom-bap of drums open the album with the easily addictive chorus of “Her Favorite Song.” (“She’s been drinking with me all night long/ because her boyfriend does it wrong/ that’s why this is her favorite song/ When she got no panties on”) sings Trew in the introduction of the tune. “Her Favorite Song” is the perfect mix of a simple, yet effective beat; a strong, but not overbearing delivery; and a memorable hook that will almost annoyingly stick in your head long after the song is played.
He follows with “Keep it Movin” and shortly after, “Doin Me”–his strongest pieces—which share similarities as they both draw inspiration from jazz music as they utilize classy horns, head-bobbing kicks and claps, and an overall ‘laxed vibe. (“And if the drinks still poppin/ And the whole club’s woppin’/ And you know you can blame it on me/,” chants Trew on the hook of “Keep it Movin,’” “And since I see your home girls watchin’/ And there’s no other option/ And I guess that we’re fuckin’ for free, sweet,” he continues. What really puts the cherry on top of each song is his laid back, almost too-cool-for-school delivery, which feels the most natural compared to the rest of the record.
There’s no doubt that the mixtape’s strength is Trew’s carefully crafted cadence coupled with the album’s impressive production. A further result comes with the fun, up-tempo “Can I Be,” which cleverly samples The Jackson Five’s “I Wanna Be Where you Are,” where he boasts about his undying commitment to music. He takes yet another turn with the kick drum heavy “Drive Me Crazy,” a track that could easily be blended in the play list of your favorite club’s top forty mix.
A majority of The James Crockett Experience is enjoyable, and at the very least, entertaining, and maybe it could have been much stronger if it were an album rather than a mixtape. Don’t get it confused, Trew flexes his musical adaptability by strong-arming his way through the diverse production, but it is very clear that he works much better with some of his instrumentals than others. Not saying his less-effective songs show lack of skill, but it’s more like they don’t carry weight.
The biggest digression of the overall mixtape comes with “Do Whatcha Wanna Do,” where the overall vibe is reminiscent of a song by the Gym Class Heroes. Once again, this isn’t showing Trew’s lack of ability, but the change of pace is so sudden and out of place that it completely misses its mark. Other songs like “The Epitome” and “Holding or Folding” are good, but by no means are memorable pieces.
Trew’s repetitive subject matter could be part of reason the record does not succeed in establishing really powerful tracks. Each number is definitely different in its own right, yet I felt like each song made mention of women or an alcoholic drink. There is absolutely nothing wrong with keeping to a central theme or subject, but Trew could have done so much more. And, unfortunately, his album felt as if it were running in place without a chance of really taking off. “My T-Shirt” is the record’s closest attempt at carrying the torch of the entire mixtape for strong synths—especially the solo—and the artist/producer relationship is undoubtedly effective.
The overall album is a platform where Trew puts his musical prowess on display. Where Trew lacks in his choice of subject matter, he more than makes up for it with his solid delivery and his chameleon-like ability to run with whatever beat is thrown his way. Even Ski Beatz, the super producer behind some of Jay-Z’s and Fat Joe’s music, put his magic touch on “Let You Go,” which calls upon the smooth bring sexy back of early 90’s R&B sounds (Props for the Kelis “In the Morning” reference by the way). Don’t expect to be enlightened by The James Crockett Experience, but do expect to enjoy the journey…And take in some good alcoholic drink suggestions along the way. You can check out his mixtape here.
Songs to look out for: “Her Favorite Song,” “Doin’ Me,” “Keep it Movin’,” “Blame,” “Thrillz,” “My T-Shirt”