The Pale and The Pretty II
An album by Notebook
Review presented by Warren Peace
Listen to The Pale and The Pretty II by Notebook.
I was introduced to Notebook’s music through a mutual social media contact. After many messages of conversation regarding different topics (including this review before it was posted), I decided to go through and break down the first album of Notebook’s that I’ve ever heard. His desire to improve, open-mindedness to the opinions of the listeners, his patience in understanding/accepting criticism, and the very gifts he has were all reasons I wanted to give The Pale and The Pretty II more than just a review. I wanted to completely analyze and dissect the album. That is exactly what I did.
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1- The Thinker (No Tellin’) (remix)
I like how this track opens up with Notebook giving us an example of his vocal abilities in regards to singing. The beat isn’t fast or slow paced, but once Notebook begins spitting his verses, it seems the beat should be turned up a little to compliment his vocals. Lyrically, Notebook has everything he needs, and displays his talent with words in many aspects on this track. He also switches up his pace several times, keeping me intrigued in that regard. Notebook could use more emphasis on some phrases or get a little more emotional with his delivery, I feel it would help him connect more with listeners. Regardless, after listening to Notebook for the first time, I believe he has a voice matching Slug’s from Atmosphere in some areas. Notebook also appears to have been heavily influenced by the likes of Atmosphere and other thought-provoking hip hop artists, which only makes me want to listen to more of his music.
2- The Weekend (Sun Goes Down) (remix)
I really enjoyed this song. The beat had a great vibe, the chorus was catchy, and Notebook displays a nearly perfect flow. Other than a couple small hiccups in the flow, I feel Notebook could have incorporated more wordplay. His multi-syllables are impressive, to say the least, and Notebook’s extended vocabulary locked my attention to the track. The volume issue from the previous track was not an issue here.
3- Kaleidoscope Eyes (prod. by Soulection)
Great track all the way around. The chorus rides with the beat perfectly, creating a chilled, relaxed feel. Notebook delivers with a smooth flow throughout the song and great lyrics, once again. This is going to be in contention for my favorite song of the album and will be on the Featured list.
4- Drunken Love (prod. by theCrxsh)
I like the futuristic sound tied into the beat and feel this song is a really good choice to follow up Kaleidoscope Eyes. While there’s not much to the chorus, Notebook still has great lyrics and a smooth flow throughout the track. The slight randomness in Notebook’s verses helps prove the title’s name to be true.
5- Madonna (Freestyle Remix)
Really like the beat used here, so once I heard it after reading the track title, I just KNEW Notebook was going to tear into this with lethal lyricism. To my dismay, I was wrong. The repeated lyrical sections seemed to be put together for this beat, to create a certain tone to the track. Regardless of whether this was a true freestyle or not, the parts of the lyrics that were only said once were sung rather than rapped, seemed very sporadic and without direction, and wasn’t following a topic or message. It seemed more like the words were put together for the sake of rhyming. I feel like more preparation for the freestyle, or simply writing the verses instead, could have made a huge difference here.
6- Black Light (prod. by Tyler, the Creator)
I didn’t want to make the same mistake I did with the last track, so when I heard the beat and noticed Tyler, the Creator was the producer, I listened without expectation. Then, BOOM! Notebook comes out of the gate with a flow I wish to have heard on the last track. However, as I continued listening, I realized Notebook’s punchlines were pretty generic and without much laugh or shock factor. Wordplay isn’t included very much, either. Then, somewhere a little after halfway through the track, Notebook’s flow gets off beat and is noticeable in several spots. The best line in this track was one of the lines at the very end, which includes a Suge Knight reference.
7- Black Sabbath (prod. by Chadroto)
Honestly, I could say the exact same thing about this song as I did the last song, except switch “at the very end, a Suge Knight reference” with “middle of the track, a stand up reference”. Notebook’s flow was on point more throughout than the last song as well.
8- Uncle Turnies and Notebook’s Pharaohs (prod. by Losco)
I felt this beat could’ve used something more to get the audience to vibe with it. With the lyrics and verses, I was not at all impressed until Notebook came onto the track with a more unique sound to a stellar flow that I would appreciate hearing more often from him. Still, when it comes to Notebook’s punchlines, they simply do not have that wow factor or comedic flavor. For the third track in a row, I felt there was much to be desired.
9- Flossin’ (prod. by Losco)
I definitely moved to this beat, enjoying it much more than Losco’s last. Notebook’s flow, style, speed, and delivery were among the best I have heard from him so far. While the verses included some clever angles that Notebook could have capitalized on, I felt he still wasn’t coming as hard as he wanted to. Notebook has a great sound, especially when his flow is sped up, when it comes to attacking beats and his “battle-mode” style, but he really needs to take a look into developing more wordplay, hitting home with his punchlines, and remember every once in awhile that less is more.
10- Jay Mitch and Notebook’s The Suburbs (prod. by Jazzy Jeff)
I like the beat, and how Jay Mitch and Notebook aimed to have a cypher type of feel between each other. Jay Mitch sounded sick or just flat out mumbled in some parts, though, and the ‘rap-gifted-Christian-presents-presence’ wordplay (yes, I added some in there) has been done to DEATH in hip hop, yet Jay Mitch believed the line was clever enough to deliver twice. Now, I will say Jay Mitch has the right idea with wordplay when it comes to that line and both emcees could stand to incorporate more wordplay in their verses, so props to Jay Mitch for that. Notebook hits this beat running, but seems to stumble the flow a bit when the beat slows, and doesn’t really raise a single eyebrow of mine with his lyrical content.
11- Bria’s Interlude /Cover\ (prod. by 40Shebib)
Now we get back to the stuff Notebook does very well. Here he displays an incredible voice as he sings over a funky beat. Hopefully he will be inspired to write some songs like this, as his emotional delivery of the lyrics are not only impressive, but pull the listeners into the music itself.
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The Write Up
If you have read through this review, you might be calling me some vulgar names and decide I am a pretty harsh critic. Well, I agree, if that is the case. First, let me say this was a good stepping stone for Notebook, as he was able to try some different sounds with his vocal range and delivery style. He also displayed an incredible vocabulary and the ability to create very good songs. Second, I want to be entirely honest with my opinion of the songs so Notebook, as an artist, can take it in, learn from it, hopefully grow, and continue striving to be his best. I feel Notebook has an incredible upside, especially with his vocal capability and his work with words. Touching up a few areas and learning more aspects of writing to incorporate into his lyrics will only turn Notebook into a beast behind a microphone. Last, Notebook was not only able to try several different styles, connecting with most, in terms of his delivery, but Notebook is probably aware of everything I’ve pointed out from track to track. Hopefully the desire for constant improvement paired with seeing successful feedback on some of the styles Notebook used will help him to lock in on those styles and develop them further. Truthfully, I would recommend maybe three tracks from this album for others to hear, but not the album itself. I will say I was pleased to have heard the album, because now I’ll be watching for Notebook’s improvements when his next project drops. This is an artist that could grow into a great emcee, and turn more than a few heads in the process if he pushes to get there.
(1.5 out of 5 stars)
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