VPC5 Round 1: Hook Challenge

(VPC 1 Round 2)
Previous Submissions

Overall Theme:

The Task:
Write a track with a great hook! You must write the lyrics of the hook. You may write a melody for the hook. You cannot perform the hook.

Challenge Description:

You must find a guest vocalist to perform the hook written by your team vocalist. While your team vocalist must write the hook, you may tweak the lyrics and/or melody. As the producer, whatever lyrical/melodic/rhythmic edits you decide will improve the hook and make for a better final track are up to your discretion. You will communicate to the guest vocalist what they are to perform.
There are only two categories of people who may not perform this hook for your team:
Your team vocalist
A core (i.e. vocalist or producer) member of any other team in the competition

It can be lyrical or instrumental. Lyrically, it can be melodic or amelodic and often comprises either the entirety of the chorus (e.g. "The Way" by Fastball), the final or repeated line of the chorus (e.g. "U Cant Touch This" by MC Hammer), or the last line of each verse ("Parents Just Don’t Understand" by DJ Jazy Jeff and the Fresh Prince). Musically, it may be an accompaniment melody during the chorus or verses (e.g. The guitar riff in "No One Knows" by Queens of the Stone Age, the horns in “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder) or in the introduction—or other instrumental section—of the song (e.g. "Layla" by Eric Clapton, "Louie Louie" by the Kingsmen).

The key to a good hook is to achieve “catchy” without it being annoying. A hook that’s too melodically simple turns out like “Tonight Tonight” by Hot Chelle and people will hate you because it gets stuck in there head with out being good; too repetitive gives you “Umbrella (ella ella ay ay ay)” and is super annoying; and too lyrically simple will be like “Take It Off” by Ke$ha and not compliment the song in any way.

Children of Arkham

Solomon Grundy

Adam - 2

This song is not good. At all. Literally the only thing good I can say about it is that the rapping is on beat. Big fuck no on the vocal effects. Lyrics are boring as fuck. Almost all useless filler lines. I am so anti low quality raps about how high quality the raps are that I am violently angry at this song. No lyrics on unintelligible hook but I’m not super convinced those lyrics are even good. I don’t have any notes on the beat and I refuse to listen to the song again to figure out something to say about it. Assuming it’s forgettable at best. I’m convinced this will be the first team dropping out this year.
Most unnecessary vocal effects.

Beaker - 5

the message is "yall gun lose" what in the fuck is this production. ok the beat i can handle but this vox. speaking truth in english? barely. oh we runnin the trap. wtf is a salmon grundy. ok the hook is even worse. what in the fuck is happening. the producer here was so focused on the vocals they didnt realize that the actual beat elements are competitng for the mid range and producing some painfully muddy nonsense. the lead synth vs the other lead synth vs the bass (lead) then that GOD DAMN HOOK comes in. HEY. ok lets add those trap HEYs - why not. fuck everything right. im pretty sure this track gave me diarhhea and it was the frist fucking one.

Emman - 5.5

Vocals:
I appreciate the way you rode the beat on this. Specifically how you paid attention to the rhythm and drum patterns and wrote your flowaround it so thumbs up there. I do hope that in future rounds youaugment the song content around the challenge to stand out from thestandard "We will crush you" theme. For example this round you couldhave started with a catchy hook about x topic, then written the themeyour song around the content of that hook.
Overall fair on content, good on delivery - 6/10

Producer:
Solid instrumental dynamics as far as the instrument balancing and thesoundscape you painted in throughout the song. Interesting choice forthe tone shifting. Keep in mind you need to play to the challenge aswell which made it a little difficult for me to understand / gethooked because of all of the vocal effects / the slower speed. So itsounded cool, but unfortunately I'm going to dock from the challenge points. 5/10

Challenge:
Criteria was met but took points off because it comes across as if you wrote a song and then fit the challenge in versus using the challenge as the frame for the song. The point of the VPC is to use the challenges to get you to create something you normally wouldn't to help you grow as artists. That can't happen if you take what you currently do and mold the challenge around it, so for future rounds try and reverse that and think outside of the box. 5/10
Overall: 5.5

Navi - 5

Production: (2/3)
Vocals (1/3)
Overall/Theme (2/4)

I’m here, I’m torn: The instrumentation, while not groundbreaking, is a solid arrangement and stays interesting throughout. In general, everything is well mixed and thumps a lot harder than a good portion of songs on this list. Plus, I really enjoy the vocal samples built into the beat. Overall, the instrumental is working overtime in the replayability department.

Lyrically, the song doesn’t do much beyond punch lines and shit talking; and as far as that style goes, it’s not the worst of the bunch. The hook melody is relatively catchy - albeit incomprehensible - and the rhythmic variance in the lyrics is solid enough that if I heard this a block away I’d probably think it was a pretty decent song.

But goddamnit, if that k-hole nightmare fuel had cut out after the first thirty seconds, this score would be so much higher. Don’t get me wrong - I LOVED the intro; but, as soon as I realized the Solomon Grundy processing wasn’t going away, I fell into a deep malaise and fled to a cabin in the Shenandoah Valley for two months. There, I wept like a newborn, repeating the phrase: “then you motherfucking DRINK it” until I couldn’t cry tears.

It’s unbearably incoherent to the point that any enjoyment I may get out of this song is completely tainted. I would listen to this song again if it were far in the distance.

Dr Vern - 3.5

The Rap is decent, if annoying...but this is a catchy hook/guest vocalist round..so, it's failish

Public Vote - 3

Overall Score - 24/60

Overall Standing - 15th

Clutch City Chaos

The Truth Hurts

Adam - 6

I was REALLY into everything Johnny Hacknslash did last year so I was a little saddened that this one didn’t work as well for me. The lyrics felt a little more thrown together than his previous work and most of it after the first few lines felt riddled with filler. I’m also used to him having a tighter delivery, which makes me think maybe this wasn’t his most labored-over submission. The chorus, aside from not really feeling like terribly meticulous writing, was adorable and effective. The little Hacknslashette had a good flow and delivery with some decent backing vox by Twill. I liked the beat for the first half but after the breakdown I really feel an opportunity was missed for a complete switch for the last few stanzas. By that time it was just a bit taxing. Over all I liked the song but it wasn’t great for me.
Most condescending hook.

Beaker - 6

MRI check - bad one. brain dead. houston is gross. little kid on the hook is awesome. best part of the track actually. beat cuts it deep. verse 2 is decent, good flow and schemes. the wierd prodcution is cutting and that whistle is distracting - the synth needs to be cut entirely. i can hear 4 different drum loops, not enough variance. "legions, minions... the halls with their tortured screams... regins supreme." a prime exmaple of a snake eating its own tail. what a shit close on the last verse to that awesome hook - the fade out was clunky and poorly transitioning. im not sure this track really has a narrative or purpose. we are supposed to be getting some "information" even if the truth hurts, but at its core this is a simple brag track - you just cant tell because it lacks punchlines. the fact that this kid bodies the hook is the true slap in the face to hte comp here.

Emman - 7

Vocals:
Hahaha. Ok, I know I just complained about the standard rap song about "I'm better than you" but this is a more honed version of "I'm better than you" rap for a catchy challenge. Specifically because it has an understood theme that anyone who is listening to the VPC can relate to... since it's about the VPC. Even though I was definitely amused by this I'm going to ask everyone to please avoid defaulting to the "I'm better than you" path. I know it's good when you're in crunch time. I will say this was easier to listen to (and not just because I have to since I'm a judge) knowing there was the defeating VPC competitors theme. 7/10

Producer:
I like the play on the whole "spooky we're gonna be your worst nightmare" mix. Also good job on the scary kid voice - not sure if that was your plan but it made it stick in my head. As far as the instrumental, I wish there was more to the dynamics of the separate instruments and their pieces (more crisp kicks and snares for example) and some more discernible variation in the melodies and drum patterns. 6/10

Challenge:
You'll get a few more points because it sounds like you picked and built around the challenge. The hook effects and the instrumental together gave a spooky Adam's Family type feel which I gave a check mark for working things together. Make sure you keep doing that for future challenges. EVERYONE READ THIS: You can't have it sound like you wrote lyrics individually, made a beat individually then slapped them together. Then you come back 5 days later like "OH YEAH THERE IS A CHALLENGE. HOW DO I FIT THAT IN!" Your beat and lyrics should change and evolve around each other throughout the duration of the round. Unless you're just perfect and get stuff right immediately. 8/10
Overall: 7.0

Navi - 8

Production: (2/3)
Vocals (3/3)
Overall/Theme (3/4)

I really enjoyed the instrumentation on this beat and, in general, it was fairly well balanced – however, the overall dynamic range and EQ felt extremely flat throughout the song. There were some very interesting decisions made in the arrangement and vocal processing, but I never really felt like the mix energy was building or changing to help support these decisions. (IE: for the hook, bringing out the gospel vox more & adding some sparkle and EQ boosts to the drums during the hook would do a lot to punch it up and add intensity to juxtapose with the child’s voice)

That said, I liked the hook a lot. The lyrics get a little too unwieldy for me to really find myself singing along, but I dug how it sounded regardless. (I do wish “write more betterer” was more pronounced. It took me several listens to understand it, without checking the lyrics). The verses are all well performed, save for some spotty sections here and there. There’s some clever wordplay and solid rhythmic changes, but the song doesn’t break the mold as far as braggadocio rap verses go; so I’m a bit meh on it concept-wise, but it’s written pretty well. I enjoyed the narrative interludes a lot too!

It’s a catchy tune, save for the chunkiness of the hook and the general dynamic flatness. I like it a lot, and I look forward to seeing what your team brings to the competition!

Dr Vern - 5

I like this track quite a bit, but it falls short on the hook...it's not catchy, in fact it's a bit grating and is too under-the music from a production standpoint

Public Vote - 7.5

Overall Score - 39.5/60

Overall Standing - 12th

Dangergrove

neverhome

Adam - 9

FULL DISCLOSURE: For the kids at home, I am a humongous Jesse Dangerously fan. He’s not only one of my top ten favorite rappers but I tend to relate to his perspectives a lot. That said, the previous album these two did together (which to be fair was mostly remixes) was not my favorite. I enjoyed it just fine but not nearly as much as I enjoy this song and it’s got me incredibly excited about the rest of their submissions for this competition. I feel like their chemistry is really much more solid now. The beat is really good and Jesse rides it very well with a solid concept that’s driven home effectively. The verses are all really good, hook is fucking perfect, and while I feel the coda could have gone just once instead of before and after the cuts I don’t really feel the song is too long, personally. Actually I’m pretty sure this is my favorite song of the round.
Most emotional concept.

Beaker - 8

this beat is neat right off the bat - is it supposed to sound oriental? rapper comes in clean - not sure who this is but it sounds familiar. nice delivery - oh there it is this is jesse-d. the bass comes in nice, beat is fresh, but still v oriental. i will NOT tell you you were rigth all along. this hook is also great. OK so track 3 sets a high bar for the rest of the tracks - the layers on the hook are excellently produced, tho the one-shots and risers on the beat are particularly disapointing in the hook, there is a semblance of balance there. verse 2 is noticably mixed louder than verse 1. the structure of the 3x3 scheme is great and carries for 16 full bars, great drop in the the second verse - UGH that additional perc element can go fuck itself - the producer is shooting himself in the foot on the back end here. all this is missing in a video set in some vast rice patty... the beat almost feels racist in that there is NOTHING ELSE AMEA about this track. verse 3 is great - love the guest artist supplementing the verse and break down. this was super solid. but lets talk about the fact that this is a fucking 5 minute song. i believe there is a threshold for listeners, and i think punk rock nailed in with the micro-song format. there is a reason commercials only run 90 seconds max - its not because they dont want more time, its because there is a point of diminsihing returns when it comes to viewers/listeners and their level of interest in media presented to them. This review is long because your song is long, i tuned out a while ago, but can keep typing because the song just keeps, on, going.

Emman - 8

Vocals:
It took me a few listens to grasp what this was but I get what you're doing with the theme. Same advice I've been giving above is continue working around the challenge. If you're going to have a catchy hook you might as well mix parts in with it to have a catchy song. You did that in your break but it disrupts the continuity of the song in it's entirety from verse to hook to verse to hook. 8/10

Producer:
I like the pan on the high hat and trap style beat mixed with new age! A little old school tossed in with the scratching too! The balance of the different instruments was great as well. You made sure what needed to stand out for additional touches did. Suggestion would be to treat the vocals as you did the instruments. At some lines in the song I had to rewind because the decibel level of the vocals wasn't enough to be heard over the instrumental. 7/10

Challenge:
Good speed to the hook, not too many words so I didn't get super confused or overwhelmed, but it did take me a bit to figure out what the song was about so I had to take a point off for that. Bonus points for having the vocalist bring extra ad libs in throughout the song. It added to getting the hook stuck in my head. 9/10
Overall:9/10

Navi - 10

Production: (3/3)
Vocals (3/3)
Overall/Theme (4/4)

Confession: The tags for this mp3 list it as being nine and a half minutes long, and around the four-minute mark, I got really worried. “This song is delightful,” I whispered. “There’s no way it can hold it together for another five minutes.” Then, I found out it was an error in the encoding, and breathed a sigh of relief. Very few songs can be Pyramids.

This song hits this round’s criteria on all fronts for me. I had to go for a highway drive and relisten to it blaring with the windows down to test said hypothesis. The synths are spot on; the mix thumps; the lyrics are poignant; and the vocals show great versatility and dynamic control. The hook is pure simplicity, performed well, and beautifully effectively; plus it pairs up cleverly with the bridge lyrics towards the end! The scratching is a lot of fun too. This is the track that plays at 6 am on the dance floor when everyone’s too tired to stop dancing and the dawn sunlight starts mingling with the LED lights, and everyone’s singing along in a druggy dazed stupor. Oophta.

I can nitpick though. There are some questionable performance moments (back half of the 2nd verse gets a bit muffled/swallowed at times), and the ending might run on a tad too long…but I don’t really have any seething issues with any of that stuff. Great track & great work!

Dr Vern - 7.5

nice vocal work in the hook, but the hook itself isn't catchy for me. also the production is uneven, sounds like the entire track is phasing..if intentional, it's distracting.

Public Vote - 7.5

Overall Score - 50/60

Overall Standing - 2nd

Dappersaurus

Drive Me Out of My Mind (Jesus Take the Wheel Mix)

Adam - 6

I love the guitar sample on this, though it sounds a bit overpowering in the mix, especially compared to the vocals. I’m definitely a fan of An Hobbes but as has been said a billion times before, he goes on and off beat in a way that often doesn’t completely work. I feel this is one of the songs where it works a little less, particularly with the blues feel of the it, which kind of begs for a little more respect for the rhythm. The lyrics are a bit directionless and feel quickly written, though I’m pretty sure An Hobbes specifically said it was written and recorded pretty last minute. I’m not feeling most of the drum sounds here, either. I actually dig the little breakdown bit, though not as much as I hate the near-endless clapping. Felix is incredible and I’m so happy he did another hook for y’all, though I wish he had a few extra takes so it wasn’t just same one repeated over and over again. I know he can put some dynamics in and it would have really benefitted the song if he recorded each hook separately like he did for Hourglass. Over all not a terrible track but not y’all’s best.
Most Dapper Dinos.

Beaker - 8

im not going to lie and tell you im surprised this song is fucking excellent. i knew exactly what to expect, and dappersaurus delivered. one of the most underrated weams from the last vpc, and long overdue for a complete lp, dappersaurus comes out original with a not-hiphop entry and, for me at least, it makes a real impact, tho i could do without the sharp as fuck trip slapsh intro.

Emman - 6

Vocals:
I like the style that An Hobbes brings. It's extremely unique the way he switches up his rhyme scheme and when. The only thing about having a unique style is you need to adapt it in certain situations. Going forward you'll have to be a little more chameleon-esque and morph to what the challenge is. I know I keep getting on everyone about fitting their verse to the challenge but that is what the deal is. The challenge is the bare bones minimum for what you need to do to not get DQ'ed for that portion of your score. You can pass with a D, but you should all be figuring out what you need to do to get an A. For you that will involve morphing to the challenge requirements and figuring out what aspect of artistry it's trying to force you into. For catchy hook, that is getting stuck in people's brains - so you need to ask yourself "how do I be really relatable to everyone so they're thinking of this when they stop playing me?" Sometimes that means being super basic, sometimes that means just paying attention to things people are talking about a lot around you. But you have to step outside of your style each round before you write and deliver. Extra points for the Master P line 6/10

Producer:
Very 'Murica. I'm not sure if you planned this because it's right by the 4th of July but I liked it. While you switched up the beat, it got a little repetitive for the lick/sample in the background so be careful with that type of stuff. With the bass also make sure you balance the volume of your frequencies because the lower frequenciesgot distorted at certain points of the song.
Overall a fun song in my opinion. 6/10

Challenge:
Alliteration helped out. I had to go back and listen to the hook afterwards meaning it didn't get stuck in my head even though I liked it so I had to dock a couple of points. The melody matched the song choice so I gave some credit there. 6/10
Overall: 6

Navi - 7

Production: (2/3)
Vocals (2/3)
Overall/Theme (3/4)

This track has a lot of fun things going for it, so bear with me as I go through my critique.

The vocals are buried during the verses and could use a little boost to really sit on the track. In general, I have some issues with the overall levels of the instruments/drums. My biggest issue is the guitar is a bit too loud/compressed, and I can’t tell if there’s clipping or just crunchy distortion going on at times. I love the builds and drops in the various sections – although, the instrumental/vox sample bridge is a bit underwhelming – and enjoyed the arrangement choises. That bridge snare is way too loud though.

The lyrics are decently enjoyable, albeit lackluster at points (especially towards the end of verses.) I wasn’t really sure what this song was about though, and the hook didn’t do much to clarify it. There’s some great moments (“froggy-moth baby”) and more often than not, the raps have just the right amount of attitude and confidence to keep the song interesting!

I wouldn’t call it the catchiest hook in the world, but it was performed well and thematically appropriate. Not necessarily something I’d find myself whispering under my breath as I get into a bar brawl with whiskey on my beard, but enjoyable nonetheless. Looking forward to hearing what comes next!

Dr Vern - 9

Great track, nice hook and really dig the up-tempo funk/blues beat , nice breakdown rap but it is maybe twice as long as it need be

Public Vote - 6

Overall Score - 42/60

Overall Standing - 11th

Dayton B & Obvious Lee

Willy

Adam - 3

God fucking dammit. That piano sample sounds like shit and gets way too busy during the verses but otherwise I WAS REALLY FEELING THIS FUCKING SONG UNTIL THE FIRST HOOK. The team vocalist had a great delivery but apparently just decided to write a fucking awful song and once I realized it was as awful as it was I got pretty god damn upset. This track seriously gave me whiplash. Slurs make for the most boring of filler content.
Most dick references.

Beaker - 3

this is what I was waiting for. there is literally nothing I can do with this track. the sampling is bitch basic, the drums are suffocated, the vocals are (intentionally) awful and for a hook challenge you managed make the experience exponentially worse. this track is the musical equivalent of an 'everybody plays' rule. delet this.

Emman - 7

Vocals:
I did catch myself bobbing my head to the verse even when I wasn't paying attention. Good work play and good job painting a catchy story. 8/10

Producer:
Good idea snagging the old ragtime / jazz combo stuff for sampling. It made me want to do the Charleston or something. I would use a parametric equalizer on some of your kicks and snares to give them a sharper sound. Find the frequencies that need to be accentuated in the sound and bring them up yourself manually. It needs work on the hook though. The mastering was clearer on the verse vocals which leads me to believe that the microphone made the difference versus the engineering. 6.5/10

Challenge:
The verses were catchier than the hook. Technically the listed rules were met, but I'm docking some points because the hook was more silly than catchy. Silly does not equal catchy - quoting myself from the Dappersaurus feedback "For catchy hook, that is getting stuck in people's brains - so you need to ask yourself "how do I be really relatable to everyone so they're thinking of this when they stop playing me?" Sometimes that means being super basic, sometimes that means just paying attention to things people are talking about a lot around you."
Edit: I came back and gave you two more points because the verse got stuck in my head 3 days later.
Overall: 7

Navi 5.5

Production: (1.5/3)
Vocals (2/3)
Overall/Theme (2/4)

Oh, that Willy...Some thoughts first: The mid-range could use some cushioning, be it through thickening up the EQing on the sample, or doubling it with another instrument that can fill out that empty space. The drums could use some sort of boost to drive the song a bit harder as well. I wasn’t really feeling the dynamic drop in the instrumental during the hook. The hook vocals were too dry and the lull in the background only adds to it in a glaringly bad way. The beat could use a lot of fleshing out.

I love these verses. I could listen to you say the phrase “Tummy Town” on repeat for days. This is one of the few songs in this round that sticks to a lyrical concept beyond being successful/unsuccessful at rapping, so kudos for that. However, the hook didn’t hit for me. I love the attitude/idea behind it, but the performance could have been cleaner (so much of it is swallowed, or lost in breaths) and trimmed down a bit to be more of an effective hook.

This song makes me giggle. Its cheeky AF, and I fucking love the vocal timbre during the verses, as well as the overall attitude of the track. In its current state however, it’s pretty rough. It could use some more clean up in the lab before it would be something I’d want to listen to again, so I can’t really call it successful to the round’s challenge. Fun entry, though!

Dr Vern - 5.5

funny as hell, unfortunately the hook is too busy to be catchy, this really could've gotten more score from me with a cleaned up hook

Public Vote - 3

Overall Score - 27/60

Overall Standing - 14th

I Have No Idea

All Broken

Adam - 8

SAD DAD RAPS by Last Emperor Moans are bar heavy as fuck. “Once you realize you aren't unstoppable anything can stop you” really hit me hard. Little bit of syllable cramming that could be reworked for better flow but this is a decently polished track that I could hear as a radio single. The verse vocals are a little buried in the mix but everything else is very clean and up front. The beat is fun and poppy and the hook is very effective. This is definitely a track I replayed a few times and really followed the lyrics. It super stuck with me and I’m really looking forward to hearing more from this team the rest of the competition.
Most relatable self deprecation

Beaker - 8

where did you find the natalie imbruglia sample pack? i know both of these guys - but it dosent really sound like either of them. moans shifted from telling me hes good at rapping to actually rapping good, so thats nice. doubles here and there, decent rhymes. techinical delivery improves the digestibility of simpler rhymes. this hook is stupendous - if any other teams are thinking about an r and b approach in future rounds, you need to come to this track to reference how a solid chorus is built out and delivered. tight, on time and composed to deliver the experience the user is expecting - the guitars build right up to the vocal sweep, a sweet change of speed from moans delivery. I put this track on my phone to listen to in the car. wish it was a little bass-y-er.

Emman - 6

Vocals:
I was about it at first, and it's not bad but piece of advice I wish someone would have given me when I started. Don't speed up for no reason. Do it to make a point and do it on the right beat. It felt forced in certain points because you were in a grove that fit really well with beat and then changed to a quick double rap in the middle of the line which made it sound like you were just trying to avoid dropping words from lines you wrote. Definitely some potential here, just pay attention to your beat more as well as the purpose of your song and ask yourself why you're switching styles if you think aboutdoing it. 5/10

Producer:
Quoting myself from above but in reverse "The mastering was clearer o the " hook "vocals which leads me to believe that the microphone made the difference versus the engineering." You'll have the opportunity to grow with your vocalist over the next rounds and my advice is to ask them what they do to their voice to make it clearer. Since we all have different vocal frequencies that are prominent in our voices, your vocal treatment needs to be very unique and tailored to your partner. I think you cut out the high frequencies in their voice which is making it sound muffled on their main vocals. Whatever you did on the backing vocals made them sound a little less muffled. I like the instrumental though - good use on the standard pop / acoustic band catchy chord progression. Made some points back up there. Just work on the vocal engineering a little more and you'll be in business. 5/10

Challenge:
I liked the hook, I was humming it later in the day (as you can tell this is how I'm judging the challenge. Extra kudos on using the little break and phaser / flanger or whatever that was. That added a nice little splash to it in a non annoying / not too repetitive way. 9/10
Overall: 6

Navi - 8

Production: (2/3)
Vocals (2/3)
Overall/Theme (4/4)

There’s something so wistfully sincere about this track, I’m willing to forgive its formulaic nature and boilerplate schmaltz. Every sonic choice and new section had me nodding, going: “yup, it WOULD go there,” but I never got mad about it. The instruments don’t quite climb out of the uncanny valley, but they’re arranged well, and the general balance/mix of the song is solid. It’s all very appropriate to that (often cheesy) style of indie rap song. I wish the verse vocals were a bit crisper. They felt a bit muffled in the mix, especially compared to the hook vocals.

We got another SUAR (successful/unsuccessful at rapping) track here, but I gotta say, Moans’ lyrics really came across for me. There are some very naked and honest moments that really tug at my heartstrings in a relatable way. Still: Moans’ has this way of falling in and out of rhythm a bit too loose for my liking, and I have a lot of small breath point/pacing issues with the performance. It’s nowhere near perfect, but it’s one of the strongest verses from him I’ve heard in a while! Plus, the actual content of the lyrics contrasts well with the more upbeat feel of the instrumental.

I’d listen to this again. The hook is catchy, not too complicated, and performed well. It’s just short enough that I don’t get sick of it, although a few hook repetitions could be sheared off at the end and I wouldn’t complain. I think this hits the requirements of the round pretty successfully! Nice work!

Dr Vern - 9

Pretty Strong Hook, Well Produced and Catchy , excellent guest vocalist, any flaws here are with the rap itself, and that's nitpicky. Great Job

Public Vote - 5.5

Overall Score - 44.5/60

Overall Standing - 5th

LexicOhm

I'm Broke

Adam - 10

I’m definitely a fan of Lex. She’s a very strong writer with a lot of personality that definitely comes out in this track. Every line was sincerely delivered and THE HOOK WAS SO FUCKING GOOD! I am really feeling Ohm-I’s vocals there. I know the drum sounds were a bit basic but I loved the production and feel this is one of the best mixed songs this round. This song is really fun to listen to, is conceptually strong instead of just rapping about rapping, and nailed the challenge parameters. I would not be surprised if this team took an early lead, as they seem to be with the public vote. Serious contenders.
Most spent on rent

Beaker - 6

first off this is a great hook for a hook challenge - super good. catchy, poppy, gets in your head. really great hook. the raps are delivered well. so good job. lots of folks struggle to stay on beat (see 1:50-1:59). the hook is the saving grace of this track. without going ham on the content, the lyrics of the verses left me confused. are we celebrating being broke, getting money from the folks? there is a lot going on here I dont get. Is this avocado toast?

Emman - 9

Vocals:
Great story telling. Again quoting myself from above - going above the challenge as a producer and a vocalist together to figure out the augmentation like a megazord. The chill flow went really will with the beat as well. Go yay area. I've only heard a few of your songs which I dug but I will caution you to make sure you step out of your style WHEN the challenge calls for it. Your style fit well into this challenge but that won't always be the case, which is something I struggled with in VPC3. 8/10

Producer:
Hahaha it's no secret I'm a fan of Ohm-I beats. I love jazz, I love hip hop, I love nerdcore so it's a cross of my favorite things. And anyone who says they're not catchy is entitled to their own opinion but I disagree whole heartedly. I think this round has the same issue we both faced when we produced for each other in round 1. Lex's vocals get overpowered by the beat, so next round focus on bringing her vocals out more. 7.5/10

Challenge:
Catchy, I'll probably be singing this when I pay my credit card bill tomorrow. Definitely something we can all relate to which is a key variable in the equation of making a catchy song. Melody, verse and hook were all catchy. 10/10
Overall: 9

Navi - 8.5

Production: (3/3)
Vocals (2/3)
Overall/Theme (3.5/4)

This is my favorite of the SUAR tracks in this round. It’s so goofy and fun to listen to, even though there are so many moments in the verses that gave me a serious case of the eyerolls. The beat thumps well and is joyously thicc. There’s a great amount of variation in the instrumental, and the mix is solid. The vocals during the verses could be a bit more prominent in the mix, but they were never unintelligible, so it may just be my personal preference.

The vocals are v bouncy, and ride the beat extremely well. This is the first track I’ve heard by Lex, and I’m really excited to hear more! That being said, my main issue is more with content than performance or technique. I’d be much more into the lyrics if the POV was someone struggling in the tech world, rather than yet another rapping-about-rapping track. Also, there were some cringe-worthy lines (“I took my middle class privilege and had it revoked”), as well as an undertone of #affluenzacore that I can’t quite detach myself from. I realize this is a pretty bitchy thing to dock points for, but I truly do believe that focusing a bit more on diversifying your concepts beyond the SUAR trope will make for some great songwriting later in this competition. Keep at it!

This song is super catchy. I’ve been humming it a lot. While I might take issue with the concept, I can’t deny that it’s well packaged and quite cohesive! GG, ya’ll.

Dr Vern - 8.5

This one has only one flaw, but it's impossible to ignore. The Hook (which is Catchy) is OVERPRODUCED and Quite Distracting This could've easily won the round without the cacophony of effects on the hook

Public Vote - 7.5

Overall Score - 49.5/60

Overall Standing - 3rd

Maybe Next Week

Meltin'

Adam - 6

This beat thumps a little but that snare is a bit taxing. I dig the synths but there should really be some more change ups in there. Over all it’s just not terribly well developed. Concept wise, I relate because seriously, FUCK DC HEAT. This is actually one of the better Jollimus submissions I’ve heard though it’s still pretty annoying aside from a few relatively great lines. First verse was okay, second verse fell apart but in a way that mostly worked. I’m not mad.
Most Jolli Jollying

Beaker - 10 (because Whit wouldn't let me give 11)

flawless. its hot out. it has a beat. it has a jollimus. 7/5. jollimus i love you.

Emman - 7.5

Vocals:
I think Jollimus is hilarious as the only black man in nerdcore. It's a really creepy song, but in a funny way. The adlibs you used made me cringe and laugh at the same time because I felt like you were actually whispering in my ear lol. This is one of my favorite songs from you as well, but like Lex above - make sure you pay attention to your style as the challenge changes. It's great to be able to deliver on this challenge but the challenge fits you... you'll have to become a chameleon. 8/10

Producer:
Ooooo I like the snare pan lol. This has a like late 90s hip hop feel. Good use of the soundscape and panning, although it got kind of repetitive. The engineering of the vocals could use some work (unless he recorded in his kitchen to which you can't fix). 6/10

Challenge:
LOL WTH. I can't unhear this hook. Can't say it wasn't catchy - my parent's AC was broken for like 3 years in high school so I understand the pain. I had to take off a point because of the naked lol. Your forced me to hear and picture it. Cohesive hook / story. - 1 for the naked thing. 9/10
Overall: 7.5

Navi - 8.5

Production: (1.5/3)
Vocals (3/3)
Overall/Theme (4/4)

All of my major notes on this track are production notes, so lets deal with those first. The drumbeat is so repetitive, and I wish a bit more time and thought was put into fills and variations. There are some general level issues (snare is too loud), plus there are so many points where the adlibs distract from & muddy up the actual verses. The beat isn’t the most gripping take on the minimal synth style, but it’s passable and I do enjoy it. A few more hours fine tuning the composition and giving each section some extra flair would go a long way for this track!

…but, here’s the thing. Jollimus has this way of taking the most mundane topics and making them engaging and interesting to listen to; and, this song is such a great example of that. I love these lyrics. Jolli sounds real confident and punchy on the delivery, and the adlibs and asides are fucking hilarious. HE WROTE THIS SONG WHILE HE WAS NAKED, Y’ALL. I love it.

The concept is goofy, but they commit to it so completely, I leave smiling each time. This song is already stuck in my head, and I think it hits the criteria for this challenge effectively and uniquely. Keep it up!

Dr Vern - 9.5

LOVE this track, I can relate. Nice catchy hook too. This one seems to get better each time I listen

Public Vote - 6

Overall Score - 47.5/60

Overall Standing - 4th

Pencil Automatons

Mushroom Cloud

Adam - 7

This song has some great rapping on it. The lyrics are sharp as fuck aside from a few filler lines here and there. The verses were really well mixed and sat perfectly on the beat but for some reason the chorus is the exact opposite. I’m not sure if it’s just too many layers or the wrong effects but the hook is buried in the mix and the clarity and energy suffers for it there. I like this song for what it is but I think this team can do better and when they do I feel they’ll be tearing some shit up big time.
Most text to speech

Beaker - 9

this is the second track, behind dangergrove, that sounds actually mixed. its not balanced out as well as it could be but its clearly been mixed thoughtfully. recognize lex straight away - flow is 7/5 exactly that I expected. the production is good, the raps are good, those sing songy notes lex likes to throw out there. since this is good my critique starts to drift to dynamics and lyrical content - you guys hit an rtj kind of groove but its still a standard braggatrack. also i think the hook could have been more engaging. you gave me harmonies, i wanted call-backs. needs more crayondroids.

Emman - 8

Vocals:
I like Lex Lingo's vocals no secret. Lots of punchlines and lol @ "Coming for those ears like Tyson." Very conscious and I like it because it makes me think. Had to step back though since I feel like this would have a better song for another challenge from you. I've listened to a lot of your stuff so I know you can make super catchy stuff. 8/10

Producer:
The instrumental was pretty dope overall, but I personally have issues using a minor scale for a catchy challenge - so interesting choice but I'll address that in the challenge section. A lot of the instruments were merging into each other, suggestion to work more on balancing where you have them sitting as far as your pans, your decibel levels and using drum pieces that have similar frequencies because those together can cause sounds to get lost in each other. Lingo's vocals are sitting a little to much over the beat (I'm using Chris Allen's nice headphones that I haven't returned to him yet to listen to these). 8/10

Challenge:
I see you trying to snag Kadesh to butter me up lol. All of his songs always get stuck in my head so I'm trying to be objective on this one. So the theme was ending the world because it's become trash if I'm assuming correctly. Hook was cohesive with the story so points there. After coming back though I mostly just remembered Ryan's melody he sang and not a lot of the actually lyrics so had to dock a couple of points. 8/10
Overall: 8

Navi - 7

Production: (1.5/3)
Vocals (2.5/3)
Overall/Theme (3/4)

The beat is appropriately dark and driving, but it has very little dynamic range, and in general, just sits underneath all the vocals - which are way louder than they need to be. It sounds as if the song was mixed from a render of the instrumental and the vocals, rather than working on everything in one project so that all the parts could fit together in a balanced fashion. I do enjoy the breakdown towards the end, and it’s the one moment where the instrumental really engaged me. The hook vocals are way too cluttered and muddy. It severely detracts from my enjoyment of the (enjoyable) hook.

The lyrics are solid and the aggro rap / punchline style is executed well. The concept is broad enough that it works with the braggadocio, but I’d have loved to hear a more committed approach to the apocalyptic stakes of the hook. That would have really solidified the conceptual scope in my mind. There’s a nice range of vocal styles showcased in the song, and I love the melodic elements in the hook & the singing sections of the verses. I wish the hook could have been clearer to understand though.

This song is a few more drafts away from being something I’d listen to regularly. It has an infectious energy and solid performances, but the mixdown and the cluttered nature of the hook really hold it back from being super re-listenable. I think there’s some exciting things to look forward to from this team in the competition! Just allow yourself the necessary time to really triple check your mixes and focus on clarity and balance.

Dr Vern - 6

another strong rap track that missed on the hook, I like the sound/tone/Atmosphere of the song, but not for this round

Public Vote - 6

Overall Score - 43/60

Overall Standing - 9th

Poverty Man & Made Up Producer

Level Up

Adam - DQ

Beat is great. No lyrics but the rapping is great. That’s Poverty Man on the hook too, though, so I’m pretty sure that means it’s a DQ here but also pretty sure the team knew that. Either way rad lil ditty.
Most made up

Beaker - DQ

i dig this with the exception of the distortion layer - that mix of lofi and bit crushing creates some highs that are uncomfortable at high volumes - esp since you didnt build out the kick. there is not enough bass here to balance the dynamics of the production. raps are dope. flow is dope. this song hit that magic zone for me as far as being short and sweet, but there was a srs lack of hook for a hook challenge. sounds to me like this track was done at the last possible minute.

Emman - DQ

Vocals:
Same warning I'm giving everyone else... try to avoid defaulting to the brag raps. I was definitely bopping with what you were delivering but I had to dock some points for it being too short. Bring your A+ game every round. If you do what everyone else is doing and come for a passing grade that's a 6/10. You have a good flow and good word play so come strong each round. 5/10

Producer:
I usually don't like heavy echo on the main verse but this sounded really good together. The beat was definitely very catchy but definitely could have used a more full sound if that makes sense. It sounds like a sample with a drum loop over it. I'm not against using drum loops, but if you use one that sounds flat use some effects to beef it up and add your own supplemental instruments. Maybe some high hats that follow the same beat so that you can beef up the dynamics to the beat. Read the feedback I gave Bill Beats below for a little extra content. 6/10

Challenge:
Played it safe with the Level Up theme, catchy and while your verse was only one... you stuck with your theme. 7/10
Overall: DQ for doing hook but would have been 6.0

Navi - DQ

Production: (0/3)
Vocals (0/3)
Overall/Theme (0/4)
This is a DQ, but I’ll give a few quick thoughts. The beat is utilitarian but underwhelming. It’s pretty well balanced, if a bit flat, and the vocals sit well in it. I actually really like the lyrics, as a concept and in the performance, and the repetition of “level up” had the makings of being a solid chant/mantra to a longer song. I’m glad the lyrics committed to the concept and didn’t bleed into “I’m a dope rapper” mode. All that being said, it was a bit too short without fully embracing the brevity (it felt like the song just ran out of steam rather than being intentionally tight). I liked the hook, though! Sorry about the DQ

Dr Vern - DQ

more of a cypher with some repeating hype track than a song with a structure, also it is super short, I would've liked more

Public Vote - 0

Overall Score - 0/60

Overall Standing - 16th

Penzel Washington & Danny DeBeato

Observe

Adam - 8

Best team name. Beat’s fire. Great cuts at the end! Vocal delivery, punchlines, and ad libs all solid. There’s not really much of a cohesive concept that I’m picking up on here, just fun raps and a relatively basic hook. I’m actually not feeling the chorus. It’s well sung but the lyrics aren’t doing it for me. The verses are objectively great though so I’m not really mad.
Most bestest team name

Beaker - 2

"I like to drink and smoke and fuck, im a different kind of nerd. absurd. wow everything about this song was good until that fucking hook, in a hook challenge. im a different kind of nerd, i like mainstream consumerism and intercourse because gee whiz thats unique, hey man i like to rap, i bet thats unique in this rap community. wow so nerdy. fuck yourself. i cant produced a constructive critique - content delivery ruined this listening experience."

Emman - 9

Vocals:
Good flow, kept my attention too. Not too much to say - I am a fan of 90s ice cube type story telling. 90s rap is where it's at :) Good way to merge the old school style with some nerdcore. 8/10

Producer:
I like Bill Beats as well. He always finds the best things to use for his beats and levels them really well. Like I can tell you pulled this sample and chopped it up, but the drums you added to it and the effects on the drums (whether or not you put them there) make them slide into the sample and augment the sample chops to give the instrumental a really full sound. I initially took a point off because I didn't get to hear you scratch, and then it came back in so I brought back a half point. 9.5/10

Challenge:
Had to come back to this one a day later to see if I remembered the hook. Cohesive story, fits in with the hook, catchy melody but didn't get stuck in my head. But it was still good so I gave it a good score. 9/10
Overall: 9

Navi - 9

Production: (3/3)
Vocals (2.5/3)
Overall/Theme (3.5/4)

The production is clean, well mixed, and dynamic. The beat’s got a catchy instrumentation, and I loved the scratching a lot. It fits well with the tone of the entire song. The intro sets up the song well, and when the beat drops, it’s juicy thick and fills out the soundscape nicely. I think the hook has a bit too many voices going on at once, so some balance tweaks on the backing vox might do it well. The singer has a beautiful voice, and I’d want to hear her stand out a bit more as a solo voice.

I really enjoyed the verses, and there’s an assured cadence and flow to the performance that makes for a very listenable tune. Some of the punchline choices are cringe-worthy (the Rocket line that closes the 2nd verse is the most egregious), but in general, it’s well written and performed. The hook has a more questionable use of the word puff (the first few listen thrus I had no idea what was being said without lyrics in front of me), and some interesting syllabic stretching to fit the melody, but it’s pretty earworm-y and I could see myself humming it as I do debatably nerdy things.

This song hits a lot of strong points for me. It’s got a decently tight hook, with some playful lyrics and solid production/performance. It’s one of my favorite entries this round! This is a powerhouse team so I’m looking forward to hearing what comes next!

Dr Vern - 8.5

Strong Track, Decent Hook, Well produced and Written. The Hook lacks something, it sounds great but is kinda forgettable

Public Vote - 7

Overall Score - 43.5/60

Overall Standing - 7th

Pretty, Good

On the Rise

Adam - 9

I FUCKING LOVE KLOP’S DRUMS FUCK. Shubz is solid as fuck the whole track. Some of my favorite bars I’ve heard from her, though the delivery is still a bit stiff. Lex Lingo’s smoother vocal twin gives us a very enjoyable hook. The content is really really good, with a lot of very poignant observations that are hella fucking relevant today, particularly in cities like Seattle (where the team lives) and Denver (where I live). I found myself rewinding a few times some of the bars hit so hard. This is a really good song and another pair of serious fucking contenders.
Most relevent political stance

Beaker - 7

this is another track that i like 90% but that last 10% chaps my nips super hard. i like everything about the beat, mixed and mastered well, everything in balance. harmonics are on point, the rhodes sounds sweet. shubz doin raps - this is way flat compared to her stnd delivery but for a stoner summer jam it works for me. i just would have preferred to go full fresh prince on that hook - you come close which left me with an expectation that was not met by the guest vocalist.

Emman - 10

Vocals:
Shubzilla has such a unique style it's hard to not listen to her. I remember once I was playing my cousin some songs I was working on and one of her songs came on and he was like "No leave it here... who is this?" And I was low key mad lol. But wow, I know I said it's tough to be woke and catchy at the same time above but you just proved me wrong. 10/10

Producer:
This made me think of Will Smith - Summertime lol. And y'all know I love me some Will Smith. Now that I get to the hook I know why it reminds me of summertime >.> This has a really classic feel. I don't even know, I just really like this instrumental lol. I want to say I was surprised at how clear you made Shubz vocals but we all know you guys have history of working together so I probably would have docked like 7 points so gg. Dynamically the soundscape of each instrument made me feel like I was sitting in a jazz lounge but then the dynamic change of the builds and drops throughout the song were so well planned and intentional. 10/10

Challenge:
That bass and the synth I super loved it. This immediately got stuck in my head like I wanted to drop the top and cruise around listening to it! It just all fit really well together. I was trying to avoid giving any 10s during the first round but I couldn't bring myself to not give this 10. You knew what you were doing bringing in that summertime hook haha. 10/10
Overall: 10

Navi - 9

Production: (3/3)
Vocals (2.5/3)
Overall/Theme (3.5/4)

This beat is a damn fine cup of coffee. The arrangement shifts and twists about organically, and the instrumentation bounces well between Henry Mancini-esque orchestration and funky ass licks. Love the variation in drum beats, and everything fills out nice and thick. I think the verse vocals are a bit too prominent and sharp in the mix, but it’s not a glaringly detrimental fault. The break with the distant sax is nice too!

The lyrics have a twist! Ah, what a twist! I like the writing/conceptual arc of this song a lot, but there are points where I felt the performance/delivery was a bit too rigid, and didn’t quite ride the beat as comfortably as it could have. I dug the wordplay (“tech boom goes the dynamite”) and major kudos for writing to a timely and uncomfortably relatable concept. I wish the “gentrification” line itself was written to land a bit more fluidly – right now, it feels like it was crammed in for the sake of getting the word in there, rather than a natural extension of the rhythm of the verses.

Here’s my big critique re: the hook. I’m all about simplicity and memorability in hook lyrics. It’s an effective way to consume the song’s core melodies/themes and encourage re-playability. HOWEVER, having been to many open mics & having seen many songwriters show their wares, I get to noticing certain tropes in choruses; the phrases “Summertime” and “On the Rise” are two of the most frequent offenders in that oeuvre. They get used allllllllllll the time. So, while I think this song is catchy and memorable, with a strong thematic through-line, I can’t discount that the hook is about as vanilla and maudlin as hooks get. Wait, was that intentional? Is the hook a meta-statement on gentrification and open mics? Now I’m confused…

Dr Vern - 8.5

Strong Track ,Well Written and Produced, Hook is decent enough but not real catchy. Strong message here, ultimately doesn't score higher because of the criteria for the round

Public Vote - 7

Overall Score - 50.5/60

Overall Standing - 1st

RACROWNN

The Past Wants to Talk

Adam - DQ

No lyrics. Drums are good. This sounds very quickly thrown together but Rhyme Artist is definitely enjoyable to listen to. Is that a guest verse? Wait, is that two guest verses? I’m honestly not super sure what this song is supposed to be about or if it’s just a loose crew track.
Most disqualified

Beaker - DQ

opening with a scratch effect and then not scratching broadcasts the fact that you use scratch samples, and thats kinda lame. the mixing on this track is sub-par. you need to work on side chaining your signals and making room in the mix for all your sounds - there is a noticable muddying of EVERYTHING when the song gets busy, and thats unfortunate beaause the rapper here *sounds* decent, when I can hear him. the mixing on this track is so uneven that listening to the entire thing is a chore. poor end user experience. would call help desk.

Emman - DQ

Vocals:
I've gotten used to your style, when I first heard you I was thrown off a little but I've grown to like it. 6 because I think you have other people 6/10

Producer:
I liked this beat. The instrumental was a little flat outside of the hook though. Similar to feedback I gave above "it sounds like a sample with a drum loop over it. I'm not against using drum loops, but if you use one that sounds flat use some effects to beef it up and add your own supplemental instruments. Maybe some high hats that follow the same beat so that you can beef up the dynamics to the beat. Read the feedback I gave Bill Beats above for a little extra content." Going forward also think about how you sit your vocals and everything on top of each other. Think of unused frequencies as white space. If you need to raise the DB level on some mid to upper frequencies on the vocals to get them to stand out from the drums / instruments you're using then jump into that white space and go for it. 7/10

Challenge:
The hook was definitely catchy, the melody was catchy. 8/10
Overall: I think you had multiple vocalists on here so unfortunately that's a DQ but it would have been a 7

Navi - DQ

Production: (0/3)
Vocals (0/3)
Overall/Theme (0/4)

This song is DQ’d so I’m not going to spend a ton of time on it, but I will throw out some quick notes/thoughts.

I really liked the beat; it’s got an old school vibe to it that hits the right blend of drive and nostalgia, and is arranged with a nice range of changes, builds and drops. The drums are a bit quiet in the mix, but not distractingly so. THAT SAID…there’s some clipping in the vocals throughout the song that I can’t ignore. Make sure you get the cleanest possible recordings so you don’t have to deal with it later on in the process!

The performance in the 3rd verse gets a bit muddled down, but in general the verses are performed pretty well! The hook was fun, although it got really sloppy during the call and response section. I did enjoy this one, so I’m saddened that it got the DQ. Better luck next round!

Dr Vern - DQ

Great Rap, Bad Hook , production is decent also, but damn that hook is not good....really Not Good

Public Vote - 0

Overall Score - 0/60

Overall Standing - 16th

Regret, Inc

No

Adam - 5

Beat is dope. Love the bass synths. It’s a little repetitive to the point that I feel it really wasn’t fully developed, though. The NOs in the hook are kind of begging for some doubling. That would have upgraded the dynamics a lot with a few extra layers to it. Vocal delivery clashes with the beat. I love Cliff B but I do not love these verses. At all. There’s a few lines that are decent, particularly the last few of the second verse, but the performance is low energy and dull and it feels like they could have used some more practicing before recording.
Most points given for only half the team

Beaker - 8

this beat is a cool idea and i like the punkish raprock approach, but its clear this is not your producers typical thing. i want to hear this song mixed and mastered properly. i dont think it was on purpose but the l/r stereo balance is suffereing in this mix - vox favor the r chan whil those splashes and kicks favor the left. that dessonence creates an offputting listening experience. there is not a dynamic effect that plays with the track, it just makes the sound feel like someone is sliding a fader back and forth. raps remind me of beefy. i like that.

Emman - 5

Vocals:
Student loans... thankkkk you lol. I feel the pain. Good content, ties into the challenge and actually goes with the hook. Solid / safe delivery. 6/10

Producer:
Good beat, vocals sound super far away and the ad libs aren't leveled too well. Use an EQ plug in and find the frequencies you need to bring up in your vocalist going forward. 5/10

Challenge:
It didn't stick as catchy to me but it did remind me of like something from tony hawk's pro skater or beastie boys so I gave you some extra points. 6/10
Overall: 5

Navi - 6

Production: (1/3)
Vocals (2/3)
Overall/Theme (3/4)

This song is so mixed quiet and flat. Nothing really drives or punches through the mix. The vocals just stand out on it like a sore thumb, and there’s not a lot engaging my ear once the beat drops in. It’s a shame, because I do enjoy the instrumentation and the progressions in the arrangement! It’s got potential to be a really gritty track, but it needs another session’s worth of mixing, compression, EQ’ing, etc. Also, some time spent crafting a chain for the hook vocals would probably help flesh out the performance and give it a dirty urgency!

Lyrically, it’s another SUAR track, with some solid jabs and punchlines, but there’s some eye-rollingly trope-y rhymes that gave me cold shivers. (Can we please retire rhyming “track record” with “track wrecker” from public use?) The performance is decent, and I do like the anti-establishment tint that the song touches on occasionally. There’s a world where this team more completely embraces their inner Zach De La Rocha with concepts and energy, and I think their songwriting will be all the better for it!

The hook is relatively catchy, albeit pretty standard stuff. It’s neither particularly gripping nor unique, but it’s performed earnestly and the lyrics are simple enough to consume. It’s easy to remember and repeat back. I’d love to hear what this team brings with a little more though put into broadening their conceptual scope and going one step further in the engineering phase of track creation!

Dr Vern - 4

poor production hurts the track, I'll give 4 points to the Hook

Public Vote - 5.5

Overall Score - 33.5/60

Overall Standing - 13th

SWA

Choose A Weapon

Adam - 7

DRUMS SOUND GREAT! This is miles ahead of the quality from the last SWA track I heard. Lyrics and vocal delivery are solid, though the first verse is noticeably tighter than the second. Hook sounds like a sample (it’s not, it’s just a very simple spoken hook) and while it’s relatively effective for this song it doesn’t seem to really rise to the challenge. I definitely like this song. I feel there could still be some more development here but serious improvement from VPC4 for sure.
Most improved team from last year

Beaker - 9

i did not realize this was press b at first - i think that has a lot to do with the producer on this track - the beat is ok. middle of the road for me. the synth line is a bit repetitive but the drums help distract, right up to the hook. a musical hook could have worked for this challenge but the size of the reverb and ice fx on that synth arent gonna cut it. also, you had a cool op to drop this out at 1:45 and have a single/single track - tho I think that would have further highlighted the shortcomings in the hook. solid offering as presented.

Emman - 8

Vocals:
Rafe, you get better each VPC and I'm a fan. Good job riding the beat. I remember when we spoke a few VPCs ago and we were talking about giving space when the beat calls for it instead of trying to fill every beat with a word. You're becoming much more intentional in your writing and choosing to treat silence just as important as vocals. One thing I will say to focus on is don't get too excited. There were a couple of lines in the first verse where you got too on top of the beat. I usually take a 30 second reset when I catch myself doing that. 8/10

Producer:
Good job on the vocals. They sound really clear and sit well in their space on the instrumental. The instro reminds me of some Carl Sagan type stuff lol, but I like spacey stuff so works for me. Work on the drums and landscape of the beat a little. Treat it like a painting of the mountains. You can draw three peaks which is essentially the same verse three times with a small variation. Ok great now add a water front and foliage in... maybe some birds and deer. Just some extra touches that don't occur or repeat with the verse / hook. Also there was a smack noise that happened before Rafe's second verse from where he opened his mouth to say the first word. Make sure you clean that stuff out. Could have brought the hook DB up a little. 7/10

Challenge:
I sang along the next day unprompted. Didn't take off a point for the DB level issue since I already took it off of the producer points. 10/10
Overall: 8

Navi - 6.5

Production: (2/3)
Vocals (2/3)
Overall/Theme (2.5/4)

Although the levels between the synths, the vocals, and the bass were a bit skewed, I do really enjoy the feel of this. I wish there was a more deliberate melody during the hook sections. As it stands, it just feels like a placeholder to something that could sound way cooler. In general, this song could use some serious trimmage, especially around the hook. I’m a huge fan of concise songs, and this track could easily shave a minute off in a couple of places and be just as effective. I do like the use of a vocal sample as a hook, but it’s so quiet. It needs to really be the focus of the hook to work. Also, the verse vox could use a bit more high-end sparkle.

There’s some great moments in the verses! (“I’m sorry motherfucker, did you need that?”) The lyrics weren’t anything extraordinary or conceptual, but the verses were well executed and enthusiastic. I think some attention could be paid to landing verses on a stronger footing. The first verse is the offender in this regard – it seems like you just trail off, rather than sticking it with the same energy you had during said verse. I love, love, love how you come in on the second verse.

This is the only song that uses a (created) sample for the hook, so props for trying something different! That said, the focus isn’t really given to the sample itself, and the hook runs really long without ever varying enough to be interesting. There’s some really interesting ideas presented in the verses and they transition well into the hook’s mantra. Can’t wait to hear what ya do next!

Dr Vern- 6.5

(Sistas With Attitude?) ...uneven production, good rap with a memorable hook, but the production eats the good stuff all too often

Public Vote - 6.5

Overall Score - 43.5/60

Overall Standing - 7th

Tha Go Hammurai

Sailor Moon Cigarillo

Adam - 8

The intro is GORGEOUS. This beat is definitely my favorite this round. Really well mixed. Awesome vocal delivery. Some really good lyrics, though the explicit sex puns are a bit much. I dig the difference in delivery between the first two verses. Freestyle was alright, though I’m not sure why it was necessary. Hook isn’t great but is effective for the song. Not going to lie. This made me want to smoke a blunt.
Most blunted up

Beaker - PENIS

all the elements and samples in this beat are well chosen and composed. a little compeition in the mix but not as noticable as other tracks. i think this track provides us a unique opportunity to analyze the lyrical content of the offering artists and talk to the subtle, subconcious narratives that artists use to 'speak their hearts' as freud famously observed, a mans tendency to obsess over a cigar lies in his psychological preference for having fallic objects in or around his mouth, providing a subconscious sense of sexual gratification due to unresolved homoerotic tendencies in the ego. even in this track, which attempts to directly sexualize a well known anime character, the artist FOCUSES on the detachable fallus at the center of the verses and chorus, not Sailor Moon herself, but instead her small, hand-rolled cuban peen. Truly this track, delivered as a hypersexualized and over-masculinized declaration of amarous intentions, is, at its core, a love song to a penis. not bad

Emman - 8.5

Vocals:
Very chill. I'm gonna give this advice again for the 7th ish time during my reviews. Make sure you really think about the challenge and don't try to just fit it around your style. Going forward you'll have to make an effort to sometimes write a song you may not normally make (mine was VPC 3-2 I believe) to capture the element of the challenge. Challenge yourself to grow and step outside of your comfort zone. 8/10

Producer:
I like this beat a lot. It's simple but has a lot of subtle stuff going on. Utilizing the pans, low DB soft rifts made me feel like I was sitting in the room with the actual instruments being played (which if you can't tell by now that's how I judge a lot of the instrumentals). You're able to do more with less using that type of strategy which also allows you to really draw focus to the elements you have in there since they don't crowd each other out. Like I heard / noticed when you changed your snare each time and added the bass blower in. Good job on the vocals as well. They're not too sharp (good frequency balancing) and not too loud or soft. I probably would have given a 10 if there was a little more instrumental development but the changing of the vocal pitch helped make up a point. 8/10

Challenge:
Challenge met, I sang along and even did a little shoulder two step. Almost subtracted a point because I think tuxedo mask sucks and is useless AF lol. But didn't let my personal vendetta get in the way. 10/10
Overall: 8.5

Navi - 9

Production: (2.5/3)
Vocals (3/3)
Overall/Theme (3.5/4)

This beat is hot, grimy nerd-hippy sex to my ears. It’s so fucking silky and smooth. I could listen to the instrumental for days on repeat. My only real production gripe is vocal related. There are a lot of places where adlibs and backing vocals wrestle with the beat/main vox for focus, and it gets distracting at times. Another go-through tweaking balance and whatnot would make this a pretty tightly produced track in my book. It runs a bit long at the end, but I wasn’t super concerned about it.

Dope fucking lyrics and performance. You’ve got a confident delivery that bounces around between a few different timbres and really rides the beat/concept well. The hook is a bit cluttered, but enjoyable. Everything hits well for me to the point where I think over repetition of the hook isn’t really needed. It’s a pretty memorable thing in its own way, and it doesn’t really need to be called back on so many times.

This song is filthy and sexy as fuck. I’m so down with the concept, and the way information gets doled out throughout shows a real tight grasp of songwriting. The hook was a little unwieldy but I’d be lying if I said I haven’t thought about it a bunch the last few days. The ambling, stoney nature of the third verse works really well in context, and, while I didn’t really need the last 45 seconds of the song, I appreciated the fact that it ends like smoke fading into the atmosphere. One of my favorite entries this round.

Dr Vern - 5.5

Good Sound and Rap, the hook is way too busy to be effective...not only not catchy, It's so crowded (from a production standpoint) I can't understand most of it

Public Vote - 6

Overall Score - 44/60

Overall Standing - 6th

Two Non Irvings

Fly!

Adam - 7

No lyrics posted. Great delivery as usual from Vincent, though I found the lyrical content a bit forgettable. Beat is fun. Solid mix. Love the hook. This is a very goofy song but I think it mostly works really well. I don’t think I’d listen to it again on purpose but there’s nothing here I’m upset about.
Most frequent flier points earned

Beaker - 7

quick lines, decent rhyme schemes. i dont hate it. what i do hate is the delivery - the inflections and accents put on the punches feels a little comical. but thats really my only complaint here. beat is ok, instrument choices work for the content and flow, bars could be a little heavier but for 'just another im better than you' track its not terrible. looking forward to rnd 2.

Emman - 7

Vocals:
Nice writing, I heard the cross bar rhyme schemes mixing... that added a nice touch for your technical aspect - but remember try to grow from the challenge. Your song should be built from your challenge as the base. If you have a catchy hook your song should revolve around that and your style probably should. 7/10

Producer:
I liked this beat. The hook could have used some better balancing. The vocals were mixed fairly well, could have reduced some of the higher frequencies just a bit because they're on the cusp of clarity and ear piercing (always a tough line to walk since they're literally on top of each other). I'll give you the same advice I've given most all producers so far, if you're going to standout you have to do more to standout when you create your instrumentals. 7/10

Challenge:
Challenge met, wasn't super catchy though but other than that no complaints. 7/10
Overall: 7

Navi - 8

Production: (1.5/3)
Vocals (3/3)
Overall/Theme (3.5/4)

This song is so much fun! Production nitpicks: I had some issues with the reverb levels on vocals (verse too wet, hook too dry) and in general, the vox never quite sat right for me in the song. And while I dug the minimalism of the instrumental, I wish it developed a bit more as it progressed (especially considering how short the song is) & had a more prominent bassline throughout to tie it all together. I liked the percussive changes between the verse and hook!

The vocals are great. The repeated FLY! has such a menacing nuance to it, and it sets the tone for the lyrics pretty well. The verses are conceptually tight and very witty. There’s some breath control issues in the performance, but the energy and confidence is strong. I will always want to come back to snake in my lap.

Love the concept! The hook has a bit of a sardonic wandering to it that doesn’t necessarily lend well to earworm status, but the repeated “FLY!” is great as a simple, catchy mantra. It’s a silly song, but I like that it exists.

Dr Vern - 7

Decent Rap and really Good Hook, Overall production keeps this one down for me

Public Vote - 6.5

Overall Score - 42.5/60

Overall Standing - 10th