Astro, ‘Starvin Like Marvin For a Cool J Song’ – Mixtape Review
If you've been keeping an eye on the recent changes in hip-hop, then you might of noticed there's something interesting happening in New York's underground scene, as a younger crop of MCs are putting out a lot of '90s inspired music, but with a 2013 twist.
And Brooklyn rapper Astro and his latest mixtape 'Starvin Like Marvin For a Cool J Song' is no exception.
You might remember Astro from the music competition TV show 'The X Factor' in 2011, where he came in seventh out of all of the contestants. But even if you haven't heard of him, he has a way of quickly making you familiar with his style and approach.
A perfect showing of this is on the tape's intro track, where Astro spits over soft keys without any drums, which sets a soulful tone for the whole project.
Producers on 'Starvin Like Marvin For a Cool J Song' include BrandUn DeShay, Statik Selektah, Easy Moe Bee, That Loser Laron and others, and features include a strong verse from Sky Zoo on the song 'Stranger,' Black Dave, Flashy Gordon, Wordspit the Illest and Loaf Muzik.
What makes the tape sound like a throwback is Astro's choice of using a bunch of skits, making it sound like an early De La Soul record or something produced by Prince Paul, who pretty much invented the hip-hop skit. Plus, many of the songs like 'Ain't What You Used To,' have hard drums, backed with a looping sample, which is a classic East Coast 90s approach.
On the song 'Didn't Know,' Astro spits a tight flow with calm and ease, as if to show that putting together compelling verses is no problem for him. And on 'Hollywood,' he rhymes about American consumerism, but instead of boasting about being a baller, he raps about the harms of being too materialistic.
On the cut 'Lisa,' Astro shows just how skilled he is at storytelling, as he rhymes about a girl that left him for his best friend. "She wasn't proper / She was really a homey hopper," he raps.
And he shows even more versatility on the song 'Don't Stop,' where he spits sharp words over a chopped and sped up voice sample.
Arguably, the only mistake on 'Starvin Like Marvin For a Cool J Song' is the bonus cut 'Bout It.' The song itself isn't a misstep because Astro has a very strong flow on it, but it doesn't fit the rest of the project. Producer That Loser Laron uses a more modernistic approach.
But that's a very small critique if you think about it, which means this young Brooklyn spitter has put together a darn good tape, and for that you have to give him his just due.