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
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
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.
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