I’m aware that it dropped a while back, but this has been worked on for so long before its release that I’m sure Erik wouldn’t mind that a review would take this amount of time to get around to. A brief history (from my POV) on Erik; I heard the name here and there through a collaboration with fellow friend and MC, Brandon Dramatic. I didn’t know a lot about his music, but with the name ‘Flowchild’ standing out, of course it’s going to be the first thing that one pays attention to. As for Child’s Play, I’ve been hearing about this project for years, but there wasn’t any talks of a release – until now, and with live performances of some tracks serving as previews, there was something to look forward to, and only question that needed to be answered was: would he live up to expectations? When it comes down to what makes a great album, key things revolve around the shaping of it: Production (it doesn’t matter how well you rhyme if the beat you’re rhyming on is wack), Lyrics (say something captivating or witty enough to grasp the attention of an audience), Originality (what are you doing different that hasn’t already been done?), and Impact (does it strike 5 stars right off the bat, or is it one to grow on you over a period of time?). On the rare occasion, I’ve heard probably a handful of artists from the Greater Toronto Area that were able to put together great albums, where there’s just a lot of good & okay flooding the streets. Hopefully, with the time taken to do this album, Erik would put together something great.
After listening to this album around 4 times in various surroundings, if I had to come up with one word to describe Child’s Play, it would be, underwhelming, and ironically enough, it was Erik’s ‘flow’ that made it so. When you’re telling a series of stories, like he is on his album, you have to find ways to captivate the audience, and the delivery of said stories make or break whether the audience will be able to appreciate what’s being said. With his flow going off and on from time to time, I found it difficult for me to able to latch on to the rhythm of his rhymes, whereas I was hearing him go off-beat too many times for my liking. The message in the album that you hear throughout, is a tale of finding the confidence within himself to prove everyone wrong that he can make it through while seemingly the weight of the world is on his shoulders; he’s breaking out to let you know that it’s his time. All of the elements were in place, but when it came down to the delivery of said messages – I would have expected more authenticity, as opposed to me hearing flows that can be heard all over. For the expectations that were built up, I was anticipating that there would be more originality than conformity (Bout Time, is one example of that).
Now, let’s not get it twisted, I said it was underwhelming, but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t any bright spots. Erik can rap; he’ll give you the metaphors & can provide lyrical skill any moment, and he definitely did. He also made some good songs that dealt with personal affliction and Testament is one of those songs that I could appreciate, because it’s one to relate to. I Mean Business has one of the best beats (actually, it probably is the best beat on the album), along with a catchy hook and it’s one of the few songs that I applauded on his flow because it went well with the song in general. It’s a few of those that were missing on it. Yup Yup is a track I’ve heard live, and compared to the studio version, hearing it life was better, because the hook gets the crowd amped.
It’s funny that when I saw Erik around the time the album was about to be released, the first song I had to talk to him about was Art, because it features the rising star, Raz Fresco, and a mutual friend of ours (the man who’s the reason why I know of Erik to begin with), Brandon Dramatic. It’s great that someone like Raz, whom has been featured on essentially every website whether it is in the States or in Canada, was able to hop on the track let some of his style shine on the soul-inspired beat, but the main topic of conversation between myself and Erik had to deal with Brandon’s verse. I’ve witnessed Brandon perform on stage, and in a studio, and Domino Jones was the first album or mixtape I ever reviewed, so I know what he’s capable of. He absolutely shredded this track and easily had the best feature on the album (and keep in mind, there’s a Joe Budden verse on the song as well). Double-time rap is his forte, but he provided the perfect execution that easily makes his verse alone rewind-worthy.
Signs of improvement on the album came when Show A Little Love came through and it’s honestly the most complete song, and it’s shortest in length, and it was perfect because he said all that needed to be said while exhuming aggression unlike any other song that I’ve heard prior on the album, so I was hopeful that the rest of the album would carry this same attitude. Whether the verse is old or it was made recently, the fact that Erik got a verse from Joe Budden to begin with, may not impress many people, but it’s still impressive because people do feel like he’s one of the more underappreciated rappers to grace the mic, and he has the track record to show for it (although his stints on reality TV and his constant tweeting may rub people the wrong way when they look at him as a serious rapper). Hurdles breaks it down on a more personal note, and the vibe of the song made it feel like it was in the early 2000s; Erik held his ground while maintaining to level of consistency that Budden brought on the first verse. The Mood Muzik effect seemed to have rubbed off on Erik, because of the revealing details about struggles in the industry and struggle within his inner circle that almost broke him down to the point of an insurmountable comeback; and it made for great music. Although I’m not the biggest fan of Chosen, I can’t discredit the continuance from ‘Hurdles’, the personal story of adversity that Erik tells, especially when it came down to his family and the fact that just because he lives in the suburbs, it doesn’t mean that he’s exempt from inner-city issues. It’s a bit eye opening, and there was definitely a level of respect that was raised. The last song that I felt was a shining point, was ironically the last song of the album. I first heard Distractions when Erik performed in with a live band (if I’m not mistaken), and it’s really the crown jewel that solidified the faith that I had in him from the first time I heard him spit. There wasn’t anything ‘distracting’ about the song that took me away from listening to it as a whole over and over, and that’s what I felt there should have been more of on the album, not just here and there.
Every project contains little nuggets that enable future endeavours to be cleaned up, smoothed out, and properly laid out so that the artist can continue to get better and better. Erik has talent, and there’s no denying that, but for the expectations that I had, and the expectations that he set for it, we didn’t exactly meet at the same level, but there’s evidence on it that makes me believe that with more time, he’ll be able to come around and deliver in greater ways than one, because he’s capable of doing so. This album has a stable foundation that he can build upon, and it’ll be good to see what he’ll be able to accomplish to strengthen his overall skill set and takeover, like he says he wants to. The confidence is there, so I have no doubts. Check it out and have your say, but for now, this is my opinion, this is my review
That’s My Word & It STiXX