Freestyle Fellowship member/ founder, Myka 9, releases his solo album 1969, referencing the year of his inception; the year he came into this world. But it also speaks to the tone of the project, as the release is a mash up of styles including soul, funk, and disco; harking back to the best of Sly and the Family Stone, as well as Jimi Hendrix, Motown, and The Sylvers. The recording also gives a respectful nod to the prevalent psychedelic and hippie cultures of the time.
Produced entirely by Canadian beat crafter Factor (Living Legends, Shape Shifters), the tracks here capture not only the mood of the era, but the spirit of Myka’s flow. Tracks like “Real Song,” with its horns and striking keys and “To the Sky,” with its affection nod to Silver Convention’s “Fly Robin Fly” speaks both to the personal nature of the project and set a certain tone. “Cadillac Nights,” an ode to the pimp mobile of the times, comes across more spoken-word or stream-of-consciousness rambling than straight up rap. But this, along with its steady drums and funk-inspired simple bass, adds to the movement of the song, making it one of the best tracks on the album. “Options,” teams Myka with Freestyle Fellowship mate and Project Blowed alumnus, Aceyalone. The pair rides a James Brown-esque mix of horns, drums, and organ, while highlighting there varied flows, allowing them to get back to what they do best together.
Other guests include the unique Busdriver, whose appearance on “”Chopper” is as manic as ever, causing Myka to sober up and focus just to keep up. If you’re a fan of the unpredictable MC you’ll get this brief, yet hyper, trip. If not, then you’ll want to check for more sane mixtures. Cali vet Awol One shows up on “91 Octane” alongside Gel Roc, where an airy guitar riff and speedy drums push the trio’s wordplay into rabbit hole trippiness.
Myka, who got his start ghost writing for the likes of NWA and The Posse, as well as collaborating with acts like The Wailers and Carmen Carter, brings all of his past experiences to this album; including his melodic, sing-songy rap style. This component might draw comparisons of this album to another more popular rap recording artist. However, here there is neither the crutch nor distraction of auto-tune!
While you might need to smoke, sniff, or pop something to really get into the mood of this recording, remember that Alice didn’t think here trip was worth the price of admission at first, either. However, if you’re ready to commit to the voyage, you’ll be glad you hopped on board this retro train. You might end up in places you never thought possible.