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Antonio Delgado a.k.a. AD The Voice
Painfully Free
Statik Entertainment


Vocalist/songwriter Antonio Delgado (AD The Voice) mixes it up on his debut album Painfully Free released by Statik Entertainment, a company which he co-owns with his producer Tom "TK" Kim (WB's Smallville Chronicles, Smallville DVD, ESPN's "Bonds On Bonds," HBO's "Wanda Sykes: Sick And Tired") based in Los Angeles, California. The album features hardcore hip hop/rap numbers that tear into society's hypocrisies and imperfections, but he also has songs that rejoice about life and have a genuine appreciation for people.

Delgado spoke in a recent webcast interview with his alma mater, Colgate University, that "Hip Hop is misunderstood." He hopes to broaden people's minds about the genre and the scope of hip hop by infusing elements of orchestral and classical music. His debut record shows hip hop/rap to be a way of life, speaking his mind freely and finding courage from within. What makes Antonio's album special is that, for him, hip hop is a philosophy to live by, the way Confuciusism is to others. Hip hop in its purest form conveys the plight of the underprivileged. Delgado does that while appreciating the little gifts that come into life. It gives the album a good balance while showcasing his vocal chops.

TK creates an orchestral backdrop for Delgado's vocal rhythms which jab, pivot, and slide like a boxer. It was the late Miles Davis who compared making music to boxing, a methodology which can be applied to Delgado's vocal prowess. The wide arches of orchestral tones on the opening track "Dead Presidents" strengthens the slams of Antonio's vocals which strike like an iron mallet. His words are hard-hitting and Delgado goes Into an LL Cool J gangsta rapping on "Venom," "Knock, Knock," and "Nig?" These are full-bodied thrusting grooves starched by buffed vocals. There are softer tempos on tracks like the throbbing "Our Time," the lightly pulsating "Life Is Hard," "Slave Child," and the title track which Delgado stylizes his vocals into a spiritual-funk momentum.

There are a lot of correlations between hardcore hip hop and hardcore punk; like in their intensity and feistiness. Some of Antonio's songs straddle that line between the two like the bopping vocal uppercuts and jabs on "I Want" and "Ready Or Not" which are comparable to Gym Class Heroes. Delgado and TK also use handclapping backbeats to pronounce the grooves and invoke the listener to listen up like on "SOS" which is a shout out to the casualties of hurricane Katrina and "Draped In Flags" which calls for compassion from the human race. Delgado's words really leave an imprint on the listener like on the mellow shades of "Celebrate" when he calls out, "Why is innocence selected and not protected." His rhyming schemes hit the accented beats dead on. Some of the tracks also use the suave R&B/soul vocal moves of Betty Roze to penetrate the listener aurally by effusing a soothing pathos like on "Way Up" and "Thangs Is Changin'." The final track "Hip Hop Lives!" rejoices not just about the music but about people. It's hands down the coolest track on the album with smooth R&B rolls, light funky grooves, and comfy coasting orchestral twinkles.

Antonio Delgado's debut effort packs a lot with 18 tracks on it. His lyrics are able to connect with the heartaches that plague the human race, speaking a truth that is hidden by society. For AD The Voice, this is what hip hop is about and what he means for people to understand about the genre. Surprisingly, he has more to say than what is in these 18 songs.

-Susan Frances


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